Book Review: “The Black Witch”

“A gripping tale of a ship of doom….”

“The Black Witch” by Author Micheal Rivers

The gripping tale of a ship of doom…

First, understand I am not one who enjoys being at sea aboard a vessel of any size. I like the ocean and best appreciate it when viewed from shore. But I do enjoy a good nautical tale, especially one with a paranormal theme, and respect the addiction and love many hold for sailing the seas.

The descriptive depiction of the ship drew me into this story then the lure of the sea as felt by its seafaring crews came next. I was drawn into the seemingly hypnotic grip which the Black Witch laid upon all that neared her. Unique in build, a magnificent vessel with a truly mysterious background of fatal voyages, I soon discovered I wanted to learn more about the coming journey of the doomed, assorted passengers. With a ghostly foundation being well set by the author, I wondered how each would fare, curious what trials were to be set upon them.

The spectrum of characters is well balanced.  Their diversity at first leaves you interested in how they will interface, yet by the novel’s end each retained an appropriate part in what became horrific experiences.  Whether you believe in the devil or not, the demon that walks the ship plays havoc with your thoughts, leaving you disturbed at how he plies upon the weaknesses of mankind, taking pleasures as he desires against anyone’s will.

In truth, I became so absorbed in my reading at one point that I startled when my dog stood and nosed me for attention.  I found myself wanting to know what lay next for the passengers and how much worse their plight could be—and when I believed I knew what might come, something different occurred to my surprise.

So for those readers who love an adventurous seafaring tale with a depth of paranormal blended tightly within, The Black Witch is worth the read. And if I were to ever buy a boat, which I doubt, it surely will not have the name “The Black Witch” painted along its sides.

Glenn Starkey

BookMarketingBuzzBlog Interview with Glenn

The Creative Mind

Interview With Novelist Glenn Starkey


What are the challenges of being a novelist today?

The greatest challenge is writing a novel worth reading. Accomplish this and the rest is procedural in terms of marketing your book. You can obtain help from mentors, friends and even hire people to promote your project, but if you do not have a book worth reading, you have no foundation to build upon.

What is your newest book? Why did you write it?

I am presently completing my first “sci-fi” based book “Amazon Moon.” As an action-adventure and historical fiction novelist, I wanted to challenge myself with a new creative path of writing — a hard hitting action-adventure that ends with a science-fiction twist. While some authors choose to remain within a single genre, I want to be known as an author that can cover a spectrum of writings and always turn out a quality story regardless of the genre.

What do you love most about being a published author?

I love writing a novel and receiving comments from men and women readers around the world telling me how much they enjoyed the story. When they begin telling me how much they loved the characters, the action, the storyline, and so forth, it truly makes my day! I then realize how I achieved my goals of being an author, capturing a reader’s soul, and making them want to read “one more page” before stopping for the day. I had one reader state, “I hate you!” Just that alone stunned me then I smiled as I read, “…you made me miss so much sleep because I loved your book and couldn’t stop until the end.”

Any advice for a struggling writer?

Honesty with yourself about your writing skills and perseverance in your efforts is important. First, study the craft by reading a wide variety of books in different genres. Second, write and complete your book before worrying about advertising, marketing, book sales and promotions. Third, get your book read by at least ten non-related people so you have a feel for your writing ability—and don’t argue with their review of your work. Analyze their comments and find the norm of problems they presented to you…then fix the problems whether it is your poor writing skills or a weak storyline. Fourth, be prepared for a bad review down the road. It doesn’t mean you are a bad writer. Remember, not everyone likes the same things in life.

Where do you see the book industry heading?

The first computers filled a room with their monstrous sizes and used IBM punch cards and reels of magnetic tape for their data. Fast-forward from that point and today your cellphone is a mini-computer with far more abilities. Your cellphone is a mini-computer. You can read a book or write one using your cellphone if you wish. Now look at the book industry. It has moved from ancient printing presses with all their labors to electronic distribution of books via “eBooks.” The evolutionary society we live in, courtesy of technological advancements, combined computers and the publishing industry so tightly that it leaves future developments a wide open race.  We have become a demanding society which expects technology to continually change—and do so swiftly. There should always be readers and a demand for well written books, but the medium we will be using is anyone’s guess. I am of the generation that still loves to “hold” a book in hand, but my grandson will be of the generation that relates more to an eBook than a hard or soft cover novel. Neither is best or wrong; it is simply how we have evolved and what we have learned during growth.

For anyone in search of a definitive answer about the future of the industry, they will be disappointed to learn there is no set answer. There will be more of a lean toward electronics such as eBooks, but the love of physically holding a book will remain for several more generations. I do firmly believe though that “big house” publishers will gradually lose their domination over the publishing industry. I believe “indie-authors” and “indie-publishing” are forces to be reckoned with.

For more information about Glenn Starkey and Solomon’s Men, Year of the Ram, and The Cobra and Scarab: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, please consult:


Now I lay me down to sleep…

The people in our novels die a variety of ways. From vampire attacks to blazing gun battles we as authors play GOD by creating fictional worlds and deciding when and how our characters will meet their demise. In the real world though, we have no control, much less any idea as to how our own lives will end. Silently though, we hope it will be swift and painless.

From youth you may remember the child’s bedtime prayer or you may have even said it with your own children and grandchildren: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…”  It’s one of those many things you carry through life as a gentle memory.

I thought of it recently while standing at the nursing home bedside of my mother-in-law. At eighty-seven years of age she had suffered with Alzheimer’s disease the last three years and the disease, now in its final stage, kept her bed-ridden and asleep. Conversation of any sort had stopped months ago. Her eyes rarely opened and when they did, only a distant stare came. Each day she weighed less than before, gradually becoming a mere wisp of the once vibrant woman I had known for thirty-six years. To watch her deteriorate to this physical state, merely breathing, not truly living, was torturous on the family. The next day she passed away. I viewed it as a blessing because her suffering had at last drawn to an end.

In those following days we received volumes of condolences from friends and family. As I read the letters and notes, I was struck hard by the realization almost everyone mentioned a friend or loved one that had suffered with the disease before dying or was presently suffering from it. The disease may physically affect one person, but the outreach of its talons leaves a cruel mark on many.

People die from other debilitating diseases as well. Alzheimer’s is not alone in that respect. What disturbs me is the physical and mental degradation you undergo from these maladies before the end arrives.  A once physically active person becomes a prisoner to a bed, no longer able to feed or bathe themselves. A wonderful writer can no longer recall his name much less compose a simple child’s story.  A superb speaker grows mute, no longer able to form a coherent sentence. Each of us has witnessed these at some point in our lives, yet we do not want to consider how our own end will be. It doesn’t matter though.  We will have little or no control when the time arrives.

Walk through a nursing home, listen to the residents’ moans and let the smells scorch your mind. You will not leave with the same state of mind you carried upon arrival. You will have a sense of guilt about you because the residents must remain while you may leave. But I realized there is more to it.  You feel a sense of guilt because you may maintain a degree of dignity about yourself while your loved ones have lost theirs and lay helpless.  I was struck by this thought when one of the last things my mother-in-law softly said was “Help me. I want my dignity.”

If I contract a disease and become confined to bed, before I move into a constant state of sleep, I hope someone will recite the bedtime prayer over me. And when the last grain of sand falls in my hourglass of life, all I too will want is to be able to die with dignity.


Reading Buddies: Investing in the Future.

By the time I was eight years old I had hunted bear with bow and arrow, ridden across the open plains upon magnificent horses, and hacked my way through lion infested jungles. By the time I was ten years old, distant lands were no longer foreign and the world had become my playground.  All this and more I accomplished solely through reading without ever leaving my home. As a kid, books were my escape from a quarreling family and chaotic life. It wasn’t until later that I realized how my early love of reading had paved the way for my achievements in adulthood.

Reading is vitally important. Our lives revolve around its daily usage. Pause for a moment and think about the people you know, their stations in life, as well as their levels of literacy. Generally you will find people with high degrees of competency were or are avid readers.

My son was always encouraged to read, and that same encouragement is being passed on to my grandson. Through my son’s thirst for knowledge and my daughter-in-law being an elementary school teacher, my grandson’s reading level will be quite good — but not all children are fortunate enough to receive encouragement or have a father and mother present in their lives for whatever reasons.

I’m a “Reading Buddy.” It’s an odd title, but one I wear proudly. Two days each week I volunteer to go to my grandson’s elementary school, sign in, and go to a teacher’s classroom.  The teacher selects two or three students to go with me to the cafeteria where we will sit, read and discuss books the teacher has chosen for them that day.  I read to them or they read to me. I ask them about the books and they give me all sorts of answers, some even related to the books. Those little elementary school cafeteria chairs are not the most comfortable in the world, and the pay for being a “Reading Buddy” is zero – but the personal reward I receive is far greater than a treasure chest of gold. Their smiles are my paycheck. And if lucky, I might do something for one of those kids that make a difference in their lives.

There are a dozen reasons why some children may not receive encouragement at home and this writing is certainly is not intended to be a soap box to preach from. Yes, some of the reasons disturb me, especially when it involves parents being more concerned with their own lives than that of their child’s. But there are single parent homes where the parent is often gone, working two jobs to support the family or the parent’s own literacy level may not be adequate to help their child learn to read. And worse, as I experienced today, a child may have recently lost a parent and feels lost in life with little reason to want to read.

Give back to your community. Invest in the future by investing your time with a child. Volunteer to do something with the talents you have. Teachers are overworked and underpaid. They appreciate every bit of help they receive.  After all, they are establishing the educational foundation of the children that are tomorrow’s leaders.

A flower needs water and sunshine in order to grow.  A child needs love and encouragement to flourish.


Note: In our school district volunteers must complete a form and undergo a background check before being allowed to work in any of the schools. It’s another good process to insure the safety of our children.

Born with the Devil in Me…

"I was born with the devil in me..."Review: “Bloodstains”   Author: Jeff Mudgett

I received a copy of “Bloodstains” from a friend. My only knowledge of it was that the author was said to be the great-great-grandson of a man believed to have been Jack the Ripper.

As a former law enforcement officer my interest in the psychological makeup of serial killers and sociopaths was heightened by this book. I had read articles, books, watched movies and documentaries, and heard countless theories about the true “Jack.” Nothing seemed of a definitive nature to truly identify the infamous murderer and in all honesty, part of me doubted this writing would be any different.  But, I remained open to all possibilities—and am glad I did.  I wasn’t disappointed in the least.

In the prologue you are introduced to Herman Webster Mudgett, the great-great-grandfather. History knows him as Dr. H. H. Holmes, the infamous serial killer, yet calling him such does his pure evil little justice as you come to know him throughout the book.  In the cover’s photo of Holmes’ eyes you sense he is devoid of emotion. It is the indifferent stare of a man who sets his own boundaries of humanity regardless of how degenerate they may be.

Within the first chapter you realize a dysfunctional chord runs throughout the Mudgett family. Bert, the grandfather, was a man who remained to himself: cold, hard, seemingly without love from his family, or displays of love to anyone. In life he was focused on his grandson, Jeff. Yet never was there outward affection a loving grandfather should have for a grandson. In death, he was only considered with disregard. Other family members have their problems as well, but it is Jeff’s introspection as an adult, his questions about lack of emotions, concerns about his lineage, his odd thoughts and such that becomes our focal point. And it is not until his father presents two boxes, items willed to Jeff by an uncaring grandfather that the true essence of the book begins to be revealed.

I now take absolute care in not writing any form of spoiler pertaining to “Bloodstains.”  I state this because the story is well written, each page so masterfully woven with the next that I fear too much information could easily be divulged.  But once the boxes were produced, my mind locked upon them, demanding to learn more.

The boxes contain two private journals of his great-great-grandfather, Herman W. Mudgett, aka Dr. H. H. Holmes. The journals are keys which unlock doors of knowledge that have never been ventured through since the beast closed them. And like Pandora’s Box, once the doors were opened, the evil within escapes.

This book is not for anyone with a weak constitution. It is not a graphically written horror story or tainted with pornographic flavor. But it will be disturbing, chilling, and emotionally destructive to the average person innocent of the mindsets and actions of serial killers. I also believe there will be readers who do not complete the book simply because it evokes such a spectrum of horrid mental images.

You follow Jeff’s plight and struggle with his bloodline demon. You begin to learn information which contradicts other writings about H. H. Holmes, about Jack the Ripper, yet you will find yourself nodding agreement that this is plausible and sickeningly truthful. There will be moments of doubt and confusion, and you will wonder about Jeff’s own degree of sanity, but the threads of the story are so tightly woven that soon its full tapestry, however macabre, comes clearly into view.

Could a demon have risen from the entries of a murderer’s journal, infect and disease Jeff’s soul as it did, especially with the writer being his lineage? Such a question is one each individual must answer for themselves. After having spent time as part of a paranormal investigative team and researched related subject matter through the years, I would not cast it all aside as foolishness. After all, the Catholic Church still performs exorcisms.

The presentation of Dr. H. H. Holmes in “Bloodstains” rightfully depicts a man as heartless as Vlad the Impaler, but displays a level of intelligence worthy of acknowledgment in the field of medicine. This acceptance of his dual nature creates conflict with a reader because you want to see him solely as a wrong-doer, not one involved with academic scientific pursuits.

When the last page was read, I sat in silence, debating my new concerns with all the tales about Jack the Ripper. Within the book I had viewed Jeff’s internal struggle with a demon so vile Hannibal Lecter paled in comparison to, and realized once more the mind still retains unexplored regions. I was relieved though that a troubled grandfather at last received his worthy redemption. And when I closed the book, I felt it remain in my thoughts for many hours.

“Bloodstains” is well written—no, it is masterfully written. Jeff Mudgett has bared himself for all to see, whether good or bad, presenting the reader with a turbulent story that allows for personal acceptance or denial. I give this book the highest marks for the depth its journey carries a reader. Everyone has skeletons in their family closet. Unfortunately, some have demons.



Organized Confusion

Yes, that is my current status. The holidays are behind us and a new year is here. I’m sitting in my office, drinking coffee and staring at “Willie” (my Labradoodle), wondering what I should do next.  Okay, I know my desk is here, somewhere, even though it’s buried beneath an avalanche of papers, business cards, and small boxes. I should clean it.  But I also need to play ‘catch-up’ with backlogged correspondence, file some documents, make data entries for income tax purposes, review today’s marketing numbers of my books, and considering I am a novelist – actually work on my current novel. Of course I cannot forget the tribulations of daily life mixed in as well; to-do lists, gym time, car problems, house maintenance repairs, and filling the holes in the yard that Willie dug last night.

So, what comes first? How do I develop a daily work schedule which allows me to accomplish a multitude of tasks?  Have you found yourself in this writer’s quagmire? Anyone have a magic answer? If so, I’m open to suggestions.

Recently while reading various postings from writers, I’ve seen a common complaint about having too many websites to monitor, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Goodreads, and dozens more. These sites devour a majority of your time with marketing postings and responses to their internal writing groups. Some authors have stated they are reducing their activities on several sites to allow better focus on their projects. I agree. There are almost too many social media activities. Like the old saying goes, “Too much of a good thing can become bad.” But which sites will serve an author best? And for what reasons?

I know I’m not the only one weighing all of these factors in order to find a balance in life. I would love to hear some of the “tricks of the trade” from seasoned writers and everyone in general. Meanwhile, I better put on another pot of coffee because I can already see this is going to be a long day.




Photo credit: Unknown, Internet.

“Life Is Not Fair….”

Life is not fairby Glenn Starkey.

Television has become as comical to me as it is frustrating. On those rare occasions when I may relax and enjoy a program without the guilt of neglecting my ‘to-do’ list, I scan through the cable channels, pause on one and find myself saying, “Life is not fair.”

Have you taken a serious look at the variety and popularity of shows that are available? I’m always left wondering, “How do the people in these television shows find these jobs?”  I know you have at least seen the commercials for these shows. Imagine the various resumes these ‘stars’ have:

“….For years I chased Sasquatch through the forest. Never found the big bugger, but came close. I stepped in his poop one time. I did catch a bad case of poison ivy though!”

“….I was the star of a show where I raced against the clock to gorge myself with plates the size of Texas, overflowing with spicy, fried foods! Some had peppers so hot I could start a campfire when I passed gas!”

“….Before I went to rehab, I was the star of show where I traveled the world drinking and reporting on booze in every bar we could find. I can only remember some locations; most are black spots in my memory.”

“….For seven years my team and I traveled America in search of ghosts. We only found demons though and performed over three-thousand exorcisms. Nebraska and Iowa are safe now because of us!”

There are also other superb shows to choose from such as the rich, irritating housewives from various cities who spend their time arguing and shopping; the twenty young, beautiful women cat-fighting over a single guy who they had never met before yet want to marry because he is their ‘true’ love; and of course, the house filled with cameras for voyeuristic pleasure to watch young men and women connive to be the last person remaining.  The list goes on and sounds worse as you define the shows in basic terms.  It’s the dumbing of America. Excellent role models for our youth. These stars and starlets will have fine resumes of their careers.

But what about the unknown people who daily star in our lives with little or no recognition or a good-salary spot on a television show?  Their work resumes would be simple:

“….I taught school.”

“….I fought fires.”

“….I drove ambulances.”

“….I patrolled the city streets.”

“….I carried a rifle and a hundred pound pack across Iraq and Afghanistan.”

So, the next time I see a television show where a man’s sole job is to travel the world to reel in a monster fish or I see screaming legions of Beiber-fevered teenagers adding to his billion-dollar plus yearly income, I will once more say, “Life is not fair….”

Fortunately, I never expected it to be.


photo credit: unknown photographer

“It won’t happen to me….”

“It won’t happen to me….”

“It won’t happen to me….”

by Glenn Starkey


I’ve spent the majority of my adult life protecting people in some manner whether alone or with a team, unarmed or carrying concealed weapons. Shadowing people of all levels on executive protection details may sound exciting, but they encompass tiring, long hours of extreme alertness.

We wish the world was only filled with good people. Unfortunately, that is not the case. With a holiday season, the flow of money and opportunities for crime are higher than normal. Protecting yourself and loved ones daily doesn’t require a bodyguard or the carrying of automatic weapons, but it does demand your personal awareness of immediate surroundings and common-sense.

The subject of this writing could be a semester long course or months of intensive hands-on training. I do not have the luxury of time and space here so I will touch upon a few basic elements to consider. By the end you will be shaking your head and saying, “I knew that!” yet these very points have been the most overlooked by crime victims because they believed “It won’t happen to me.”

We’re going to look at personal security actions from the level of an everyday citizen, not a CEO or major public figure. For now let’s break your life into four components: (1) Personal Communications, (2) At Home, (3) Travel and, (4) Public Venues. There are more we could use but we are keeping this simple due to brevity.

PERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS: Think about computer fraud, those phishing and scam emails, and computer viruses. Some of the banking phishing/scam emails appear quite authentic and it’s easy to be duped into submitting your personal data. And don’t fall for the “Millions of dollars are waiting for you to claim in Nigeria” scams.  Primarily, bad guys are trying to hook the greed in weak people with these emails. Another scam is to receive an email from a friend which states he/she is overseas, lost their wallet and need you to wire them money. Of course they will repay you upon their return. The email address looks authentic, you want to assist your dear friend, you send money and later discover they were simply in the next state visiting relatives.  It’s amazing what all scams are out there. Changing passwords on your computer and the various programs you use also helps. One last item; be careful what personal information you give out over the telephone.  Be sure who you are talking to before providing information to callers, even if it means you must call the main number of a company and request to speak to the caller again.

AT HOME:  If you park your vehicle in your residence driveway, lock it when unattended. Don’t leave valuables lying in the seats. These attract the attention of car burglars prowling neighborhoods at night.  Keep a cell phone in your bedroom at night to use to call the police if needed.  Remember to lock your residence’s doors after you have entered the house. Check your windows to insure they are locked. People often open windows to air their homes and forget to lock the windows later after closing them. Don’t open the door to strangers or allow them to enter unless you know them. If someone displays an ID of some official nature, don’t be afraid to call their agency or the police to properly identify them. When ID’s are flashed at you then quickly closed and put away by the unknown person, simply tell them to display it again so you can better read it. Don’t be intimidated by shiny badges and fancy ID’s in leather wallets. Fake badges and homemade ID’s are easy to acquire.  Insure your residential alarm works properly. Call your alarm monitoring company at least once a month and advise them you are going to test it – or set off the alarm to see if the alarm company is actually monitoring.  During Christmas, don’t display wrapped gifts where they can be seen through the windows. Everyone wants to stand their Christmas tree in the front main window of their homes, but it also serves as a beacon for burglars wanting quick hit and runs.

TRAVEL: When you are out and about, keep your vehicle doors locked. Be aware of vehicles that seem to be following you on roadways or from store to store. Be alert to your driving; no texting or long unnecessary mobile phone conversations.  At a red light, leave space between your front bumper and the vehicle in front of you. You want enough room to pull out and go around them if needed. Car jackers will attempt to box you in between their vehicle behind you and their partner in front of you. Always park your vehicle at businesses in well-lit areas if possible. Try not to park in desolate areas.  Does your car alarm work? Remember, you can use the alarm function to attract attention along with sounding your car horn (and headlights on bright during daylight hours also grabs attention.)

PUBLIC VENUES: Be aware of people around you, especially those people that seem to be too close when there is no need to be. When out in public, don’t flash your money where everyone can see. You would be surprised how often people do this without realizing their actions. Ladies, keep your purses zipped, snapped, and closed under your arm in front of you, not swinging open behind you. Men and women – if you carry briefcases or laptop bags keep them with you and beware when setting them down. It takes less than a second to calmly walk by and grab one.  When walking through a parking lot, keep your head up and scan the area around you as you walk. Bad guys don’t generally want eye contact with their victims before they strike. Don’t walk like a victim with head down and shoulders slumped as if you were a meek lamb. When walking to your car, have your keys out, finger on the panic button, and look about your vehicle as you approach. If you see someone lingering around your vehicle or cutting through a parking lot walking toward you, slow down to see where they are truly heading or even return inside the business where you just came from. When you enter your vehicle, the first thing to do is lock all doors, then do the thousand little things you would normally do which distracts your attention from noticing someone is walking up to your vehicle.  Also, let your family, or someone, know your basic travel schedule in the event something occurs and you are not home by an appropriate time.

These are all basic, common-sense actions you should think about year round. There are far more, and every geographical location has its own specific issues, but the ones I’ve listed will be of general everyday assistance to you.

To start training yourself, play a game.  The next time you are at a busy store or the mall, watch the people as they pass by.  Look at the number of women’s purses that are open and hanging behind them.  Watch how people carelessly set laptop bags, briefcases, and electronics down and pay little regard to them. Watch how people flash wads of money and which pocket they return the money too. Look at how people walk and their overall demeanor: are they acting like a victim or someone you wouldn’t want to confront?  Next time you walk by a car parked next to you, were there valuables laying in plain view, inviting a car burglar to smash the window, grab and run? And pay attention to people’s hands, where they are and what’s in them.  Any police officer or Secret Service agent that has worked the streets will tell you no one has ever been shot by someone with a pair of empty hands.  If you are confronted by a robber, stay as calm as possible and don’t try to be a hero. There’s nothing in your wallet or purse that cannot be replaced.  In this day and age, robbers shoot people for little to no reason in order to see them die, so don’t take chances.

As a writer, you can easily incorporate people’s antics into your novels and have a sense of realism.  But most of all learn to pay attention to your “gut-feeling” that something may be wrong.  Women’s intuition is real. Men have it too. Listen to your senses. Animals survive in the jungle because of their senses. We live in concrete jungles. And if you believe nothing will ever happen to you then I have some swamp land to sell you that will make a great parking lot.

Be Safe.




Black-Eyed Friday

“It’s mine…No, it’s mine…Get away!…No, you get away!”


by Glenn Starkey (@GStarkeyBooks)

Prior to Halloween I walked through a major store and observed Christmas products already intermingled with Thanksgiving items on the shelves. Goblins, pilgrims, and elves are a confusing menagerie of images when you are supposed to only be buying a bag of candy for “Trick or Treaters.”

By Thanksgiving though, Christmas ornamentations were fully hung in the stores along side of “Black Friday” shopping countdowns. Now cardboard elves were staring across the isles at cardboard pilgrims standing beside native American Indians holding turkeys. And Black Friday advertisements loomed on the horizon as if announcing the coming of the end of the world!

Somewhere along the line in America we leaped from Halloween to Christmas, leaving Thanksgiving a blip on the calendar, its significance almost buried beneath the avalanche of oncoming sales the following day.

When we awakened from our naps brought on by the usual Thanksgiving over-indulgence, and the annual televised football game ended, something magical occurred. Within the snap of a finger we were catapulted into a Christmas mindset, the season of “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men.” We had just been shot through a time-warp from witches to pilgrims to elves, yet realized the transition would not be complete until we are past the infamous gladiatorial shopping day—Black Friday. Yes, it is the single day of the entire holiday season in which we cast out all good will toward our fellow man (or woman as seen in the news) and take no prisoners at the mall!

While some people chose to forego the meaning and celebration of Thanksgiving all together and literally camped outside the doors of major retail stores, others chose to leave directly from their Thanksgiving dinners to be in line at midnight when the doors opened.

(Now play the soundtrack from THE TERMINATOR) And at the tolling of the bells, the doors swung open, the stampedes began, and the brotherly love of Christmas transformed into a gladiatorial battle…Insanity fueled the masses… By that evening, television news stations were reporting a woman pepper-sprayed fellow shoppers that had closed in about her; a shopper Tasered another shopper during an argument over a toy; a woman accidentally struck another woman’s two years-old child while in a fight over a video game, leading to further fighting between the women; police were forced to wrestle a violent shopper to the ground because he had ripped something from another person’s hands, and a 61 year old man fell dead in a store and customers stepped over his body to continue their shopping …. The news reports kept coming, growing stranger by the moment.

And by late that night, the wild-eyed, wounded combatants and weary campers returned home (or were awaiting release from jail) with precious bargains in hand, ready now to celebrate the true essence of the season and spread “Peace, Love, and Joy” among their fellow man for a few weeks. But to honor this special day and those with such Christmas spirit who found it necessary to kick, bite, punch, pepper-spray, and Taser their fellow shoppers, I believe we should now call it “BLACK-EYED FRIDAY.” Hopefully, their handcuff marks, bruises, and black-eyes will have healed in time to sing Christmas carols and rejoice with “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men.”

Having swept through the holidays like a fast-forwarded movie and the whirlwind of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black-Eyed Friday, and Christmas activities drawing to an abrupt halt, on Christmas Day there will be people who sit in their chairs wondering why they are so mentally exhausted, glad it’s all over for another year.

What a pity. What a sad commentary it is in many ways. But as I have learned through the years, there are still good people in this world and the true essence of Christmas will not be lost.


Photo Credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Glenn Starkey Interview by Steel Diamonds

Steel Diamonds Publishing is an eBook publisher

This interview may also be found on their site

Q: What was the inspiration for your novel “The Cobra and Scarab”?

A: Watching a television documentary about the beautiful Egyptian queen Hatshepsut and her questionable rise to power as “King” and Pharaoh, I became intrigued by the gaps within the story.  She supposedly stole the kingship from her stepson, the rightful heir Thutmose III, and announced she would relinquish control once he reached an adequate age.  But she didn’t and hatred grew between them. She suddenly died; he became Pharaoh and then had her name and any references to her smashed from everything in Egypt. Thutmose III went on to become one of Egypt’s strongest military rulers—and the documentary ended. There was no further information about the cause of Hatshepsut’s death except hints of treachery and murder. Now hooked, I continued to research that period of history and kept finding the same basic storyline.  It was then I realized my novel, “The Cobra and Scarab,” lay within those historical gaps.

Q: In looking over your work I find it difficult to place them in a certain genre. What category would you say best suits your work?

A: My novels are a blend of action adventure, historical fiction and suspense. I will probably always have some aspect of history as a foundation for my books, but believe readers of almost any genre will find interest in my writings. I say this with confidence because I’ve had several readers tell me that there is something for everyone in my books.

Q: Your book “Solomon’s Men” has been published in print, but not as an eBook. Is this a marketing strategy, a dislike for eBooks, or the publisher’s decision?

A: As I answer this question, I am awaiting the online arrival of “Solomon’s Men” as an eBook for Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, and Apple iPad. When “Solomon’s Men” was originally published, there were no eBooks. My writing career came to a screeching halt at that time due to cancer, which is now in remission, and the events of “9-11.” The demands of my security manager career with a global oil corporation magnified ten-fold and never slackened until I retired.  Having been asked for years by faithful readers when another novel would be coming, upon retirement I chose to renew my writings. I found the publishing world had drastically changed and discovered eBooks were a new avenue. From the beginning then I wanted “Solomon’s Men” released as an eBook.  It just happened to fall as the latest book to be released due to the volume of work involved with publication of multiple novels. “Year of the Ram” and “The Cobra and Scarab: A Novel of Ancient Egypt” were recently released in print form.  “The Cobra and Scarab” is also out as an eBook.

Q: The shows only 1 of your books left in stock. Are we to assume they have been selling well?

A: I recently saw that on and was quite pleased. With my return to writing there has been a resurgence of interest in my novels so I hope this is an indication of the future for all my writings.

Q: While you have a limited number of reviews, you have received nothing but the highest marks. As a writer, how does this make you feel?

A: “Solomon’s Men” has truly been received well. It has all the reviews at this time because the other novels have just come out. I know readers have begun ordering them so hopefully more reviews will be forthcoming. As for receiving the highest marks, it is an excellent feeling! It gives positive validation to my overall creative efforts as an author.  I want readers to undergo a roller-coaster ride of emotions with my novels, and the great reviews to date tell me I have been successful.

Q: How much research have you done for your books?

A: I generally spend three to four months performing intense research for a book such as “Year of the Ram” where I included actual ancient war devices invented by the Chinese.  During those months I am also mentally perfecting the overall storyline I want. Once I actually start writing the novel, the beginning to end process is over one year. My office becomes a disaster zone due to books, magazines, notes, photos and drawings scattered throughout the room.  My wife looks in, shakes her head, and walks away.

Q: Your other new book “Year of the Ram” sounds very intriguing. It also sounds very violent. Would you say it is suitable for all age groups?

A:  My novels are written with a historical foundation and history is often far more cruel than I write in my books. “Year of the Ram” is set against the backdrop of a savage war after the Mongols captured China as its own. It is an epic novel of a man torn between his allegiance to his father—the Great Khan, the struggle to save their nation against the onslaught of a massive greed-ridden army, and the discovery of a son he never knew had been born.

I do not write children’s books or for young adults, but I find it odd that a historical fiction novel is thought violent while novels and movies of paranormal, horror, gory zombies, blood-sucking vampires, and throat-ripping werewolves are so widely acceptable for today’s teenage youth.

Q: Do you feel the ability of authors to publish independently without the use of an editor has in any way degraded the overall quality of books in the marketplace?

A: There is a definite need for quality filtering of some form, whether it is an editor or an author’s well-disciplined pre-publication review process. The degradation in quality of books due to a flood of indie published works, especially free eBook publishing, has become a major heated point of discussion on many book seller forums, such as Amazon.  This is creating an unjustified backlash against all indie authors.  On almost every forum you read postings which state indie writers should be filtered/separated from  “the good books” (referring to major publishing houses) because of their poor writing skills.  Based on the volume of irate comments, you realize all indie authors, good or bad, are being lumped into one pile labeled: “Stay Away.”

Q: What has been your most successful marketing tool/strategy for your novels?

A: Social media networking is a tremendous tool. But I also find simple word of mouth recommendations from one reader to another, giving those reviews about your novels that you will never know of or hear, is the strongest marketing tool.

Q: Where do you see yourself as a writer ten years from now?

A: I see myself writing, still trying to feverishly get the hundreds of ideas out of my head and into books.  I want to develop a strong readership and following that will be anxiously awaiting my next work. I definitely see myself demanding that the next novel be even better than the last.

My website, book excerpts, and blog is

I can be contacted through the contact page on my website.