The Ballpark Mysteries by Nicole Asselin


Madeline Boucher’s Grandfather instilled a love in the Boston Red Sox into her from an early age and increased that love by purchasing a local Independent League Baseball team, the Abington Armadillos.

After losing her corporate job in Boston, Madeline realizes her best option is to join the family baseball business. As the new “Social Media Director” for the team, Madeline attends her first business function and witnesses an argument between her brother Ben, and a strange man.

A few days later when walking the ballpark during her early morning hours, she finds the body of a man beaten to death with a baseball bat in the Visitor’s Dugout. It was the man her brother was arguing with at the party. Madeline is concerned that her brother would be considered a suspect. Through the local Detectives and Davis - the head of security for the ballpark she learns the victim is Christopher Dailey, a local baseball scout and prior felon.

When her brother is arrested and taken to the police station, she realizes she needs to figure out who the real culprit is, so her brother doesn’t take the fall for something she knows he didn’t do. 


Madeline Boucher is still reeling from her first few weeks of working for her family’s Independent League Baseball Team, the Abington Armadillos. She found a dead body and survived a kidnapping before finally clearing her brother of a murder. She didn’t think anything could be as dramatic as that, but she was wrong.

Her parents have given her more responsibility in running ballpark events in the hopes that they could retire and leave the team in her hands. Her brother is moving on to the big leagues, so this is her time to shine. Her first task? Deal with a concession stand kerfuffle. Redmond Brewery heiress, Alaska Redmond, storms her way into the ballpark making demands.

The next day, the son of the concession’s manager finds Redmond’s body in one of the beer stands along the ballpark concourse. While the suspects start piling up, including a promising young player on the team, Madeline knows she must get involved. With the help of Davis, her new love interest and head of the security department, she delves deeper into the death of the heiress.

Trying to run team events, solve a murder, and have a normal life take their toll as Madeline comes to depend on those in her baseball-loving community. sense of things. Will anyone help her untangle the mess of suspects including the victim’s family?

Amazon ~~ Website

About the Author

Nicole Asselin grew up a Navy Brat and spent her formative high school years in the middle of Pennsylvania but always identified with her New England roots. Nicole’s family is originally from Connecticut, and her Grandpa Asselin introduced her into the Red Sox nation where she has been a member for her whole life and her Grandma Asselin introduced her to the world of mystery novels. Now those two loves are combined into her new Ballpark Mystery series.

Nicole graduated from Curry College in Milton Mass with a degree in English/Creative Writing, minoring in Dance in 2004. She also attended George Mason University and received a Master’s in Arts Management. She worked in the Government sector for over ten years before transitioning to Healthcare. Now working in just outside of Boston as a Technical Writer, she lives on the South Shore of Massachusetts with her three cats Julia, Jacques, and Madeline (no relation to the main character of her book).

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Lineage by J.N. Sheats


J.J. Morris Book 1

by J.N. Sheats

Genre: Paranormal Mystery Thriller

"Cameron, why do you call me dove," I asked, ready for disappointment.
"Because, you bring my soul peace."

Joey Morris has spent her young life moving around the country with her constantly absent mother until finally ending up in the small college town of Portstown, Pennsylvania. Here history is thick in the air and Joey discovers that her family has long reaching roots in the town, dating back to the very first settlement. Because of her heritage she is welcomed into the group of the other founding families, and quickly becomes one of the popular girls in school.

After over a year of the good life and Homecoming just days away, Joey is thrown into a terrifying new reality. Happening across a violent black dog with glowing red eyes, and a handsome stranger that puts his life on the line to save her only to stick a gun in her chest moments later.

Now people are dying in Portstown, people close to Joey and she doesn't understand why. Will Joey have anyone left after she discovers the truth about her past?

Cameron Davis is a man from another life, for years he has been focused on his mission. The drive that keeps his soul locked inside a physical body, staving off the reaper. That all changes when he is given the task of protecting Joey and stopping the attacks.

This girl makes him weak and brings up memories of a past he left behind nearly a century ago. What secrets lie beyond his contract with the elusive Warner family, and why does this girl need protecting?

Lineage is a young adult novel but is recommended for readers 16+ due to violence. 

**On Sale for Only .99cents!!**

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Mr. Blaire, I’m sor—”

A violent jerk sent me forward, cutting off the words. Something warm splattered my face and in my mouth. It tasted...metallic.


As quickly as the fear had left it returned, stunning me with emotional whiplash and leaving my mind blank. Reality didn’t hit until Marty let out an ear-piercing scream that sent goosebumps down my arms.

Everything switched from dull numbness to chaos in a matter of heartbeats. Marty was screaming in the background, yelling my name—crying out for help with desperate pleas as I watched Mr. Blaire’s face. He was looking right at me, his body tense and straining as he grabbed the doorframe. His other hand clasped my wrist. I tried to pull from him but his grip was too strong, he clung to me with every inch of survival instinct of a man desperate to live. Blood stained his purpling lips as he ground his teeth trying to form words, but they only came out in groans. 

Pain twisted on the young teacher’s face and his body jerked back into the hallway. I was pulled forward again as Mr. Blaire released the door frame, both of us being dragged into the darkness.

A creative mind trapped in a world of reality Jackie Sheats expresses herself in anyway that she can. From illustrating and writing to dancing like a mental patient while preparing dinner. Living in Maryland with her logic driven husband, their six cats, the dog, and a tank full of fish, Jackie spends her free time doing the backlog of housework and studying for her Masters in Illustration. A movie junkie, video game addict, and secret ninja in training she lives life under the idea that "if you don't know how to do something, go learn it!"

Website * Art Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Etsy * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

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Harley James and the Peril of the Pirate's Curse by Leah Cupps

Will Harley find the magic pearl before Port Royal is destroyed?
Harley James, explorer and amateur cryptologist, has just arrived in Port Royal, Jamaica—home to the Caribbean’s famous sunken pirate city. Her latest mission? Prevent a mysterious, mythical blue pearl from being discovered and prevent city’s total destruction.
No sweat for an adventurer like Harley, right?
But just when Harley thinks she’s on the right track, everything she believes is turned upside-down. Her friends become enemies; her enemies become friends; and Harley isn’t sure who to trust—including the ghost who’s started following her around.
With time running out, Harley must rely on her codebreaking expertise to discover the truth, solve the riddles, and save the city from certain disaster!

NOTE: The book is $0.99.

~~ Amazon ~~


Standing next to Dad was the captain of the ship, Tom. He was really tall—six foot something—and had teeth that lit up against his dark skin when he grinned.
I looked back toward the city of Port Royal, with all its boats and bustle. From where I stood, it was only about two inches tall on the horizon. Definitely far enough away that we weren’t going to crash into a wharf, especially with Captain Tom at the helm. Except for the fact that he was now standing next to me on the deck.
“Wait a minute,” I said, glancing at Tom. “If you’re here, who’s driving this thing?”
It’s bad enough being seasick, but being seasick on an out-of-control ship? That’s even worse, I thought.
“Oh, we’ll be fine for a bit,” Tom said. “This ship, she can almost steer herself.”
I clutched my stomach, not because I didn’t believe him but because another wave hit up against the ship, sending my guts into a nosedive.
Tom laughed. “You worried about your tummy? I have some tricks that may help. Walk with me.”
Dad nodded to me, signaling it was okay to follow. Dad is very overprotective of me, to the point where I get completely annoyed. Granted, I’m only eleven years old, but I am very capable of taking care of myself. In fact, last year, I saved the world from an army of Mayan zombies by stealing back a magical statue from a super bad guy.

About the Author

Leah Cupps is an author, designer and entrepreneur. She came up with the idea for Harley James with her oldest daughter Savannah. Savannah had taken an interest in Mayan history and so the two of them worked together to come up with the idea for the first Harley James book; the Mystery of the Mayan Kings.
Leah lives in Indiana with her husband and three children. She is also the cofounder of Vision Forty Press, a small family owned publishing company.


Double Dipped (One Scoop or Two) by Terry Korth Fischer

Accepting second best is good for her career, but first-grade teacher, Retta Curt, delays signing up for the disappointment. Given two weeks to reconsider her contract, she retreats to Gram’s cottage on Moon Lake, the last place she felt contentment. But the cottage is derelict; Cousin Julie, distant; childhood beaux, Dean, bitter; and Sweet Picks, the family ice cream stand, in danger of folding. Magruder, a surly newcomer, is buying and then neglecting properties until nothing remains of the idyllic lakeside community she remembers. When vandals target Sweet Picks, Retta’s dreams to recapture her happy childhood collapse, and the return to Moon Lake becomes a decision worse than accepting her teaching contract. Star-crossed, can she save the family business and rediscover happiness, or is Retta destined for a second-best future?

Amazon ~~ B&N ~~ Apple Books


Dean Zwack, tall, dressed in an orange and white Hawaiian shirt, entered. One look at her standing there, and his dark eyes widened, and his jaw dropped. “Retta? Lauretta Taft?”

“I go by Retta Curt, now.” She studied him; handsome with an easy smile, dark hair needing a trim, and ears that poked through the curls.

A slow grin spread across his face. His eyes twinkled. “Retta Taft Curt,” he whispered.

Casting her gaze to the linoleum floor, she inhaled deeply. “Hello, Dean. It's been a while.”

“I'll say.” He moved with an athlete's grace around the counter to face her. “What has it been? Ten years? Fifteen?”

“Maybe a dozen years, not more.”

“You look great.”

“You look older.”

Why did she say that? Or course he looked older. They'd been in high school the last summer she'd spent at Moon Lake. College, marriage, divorce, fledgling career—all had happened in the meantime. She felt her cheeks heating. Hoping he didn't notice the blush or her embarrassment, she quickly added, “So, you're staffing the family front desk tonight?”

“Tonight, and every night.” He still wore the grin. “Story of my life.”

There was a prolonged silence while he looked her over from dirty-blond head to sandaled feet. She endured the inspection, wondering what he'd done while she was making a mess of her life.

About the Author

Terry Korth Fischer writes short stories, memoirs, and mysteries. Her debut mystery, Gone Astray, introduced Detective Rory Naysmith, a seasoned city cop relocated to small-town Winterset, Nebraska. The Rory Naysmith Mysteries continued with Gone Before, January 2022. Transplanted from the Midwest, Terry lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two guard cats. When not writing, she loves reading, gardening, and basking in sunshine. Yet, her heart often wanders to the country's heartland, where she spent a memorable—ordinary but charmed—childhood. Learn more about Terry at her author website.

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To Kingdom Come by Claudia Riess

Amateur sleuths, Erika Shawn-Wheatley, art magazine editor, and Harrison Wheatley, art history professor, attend a Zoom meeting of individuals from around the globe whose common goal is to expedite the return of African art looted during the colonial era.  Olivia Chatham, a math instructor at London University, has just begun speaking about her recent find, a journal penned by her great-granduncle, Andrew Barrett, active member of the Royal Army Medical Service during England’s 1897 “punitive expedition” launched against the Kingdom of Benin. 

Olivia is about to disclose what she hopes the sleuthing duo will bring to light, when the proceedings are disrupted by an unusual movement in one of the squares on the grid.  Frozen disbelief erupts into a frenzy of calls for help as the group, including the victim, watch in horror the enactment of a murder videotaped in real time.

It will not be the only murder or act of brutality Erika and Harrison encounter in their two-pronged effort to hunt down the source of violence and unearth a cache of African treasures alluded to in Barrett’s journal.


Much of the action takes place in London, scene of the crimes and quest for redemption.

~~ Amazon ~~


The first page identified the journal’s owner and date of inception in neatly penned script:

Andrew James Dexter Barrett Book One: 22 March 1897 – 17 August 1897 The subject of where Book Two and beyond might have gone off to was not raised because it would have been futile and, at least for now, irrelevant. Erika carefully turned the page to reveal the journal’s first entry, thankfully in that same legible, script: 22 March, homecoming. They read on, silently.

Hard to believe it has been less than ten weeks since the SS Malacca, cargo steamship refitted as a hospital ship, set forth for the Benin coast with me and my fellow medics aboard. It seems like a lifetime ago, perhaps because I have become a new man, or rather a newly awakened man, in the interim.

I have learned firsthand what history books and hearsay can only, at best, inadequately describe, and I will never again shut my eyes to the indignities and injustices we self-proclaimed entitled few, heap upon our brethren: those less fiscally sound as well as those of darker skin.

On Saturday, 20 March, when the ship pulled into Gosport, England, Father was waiting for me on the dock in top hat and frock coat, dapper as the nobleman he is. As I heave-hoed my laundry bag containing the rescued Benin treasures into our horse-drawn carriage, Father commented on its obvious weight. “What have you got in there?” he asked, with barely a trace of curiosity. “Medical books and instruments,” I answered without hesitation, realizing as I uttered the words that I had no intention of bringing him into my confidence.

I had been getting about on my own for years and could very well have hired a carriage to take me on the sixty-six-mile journey home, but Father had been adamant about accompanying me, even though it meant that both he and his coachman must overnight at an inn to, and again from, Gosport. In retrospect, I wonder if his intention, perhaps not conscious, was to use our extensive time alone to reclaim his control over me, since he did, after all, spend a good deal of time speaking of his activities in the House of Lords and pressing upon me the certainty that I was “marvelously suited” to that rewarding life. Mid-point between Gosport and Hertfordshire, we rented rooms at the inn in Guildford, where Father and the coachman had stayed the night before. To dilute Father’s lecture disguised as conversation, I must have consumed more ale that night than I had in the previous six months.

I awakened this morning well rested, but with a raging headache. Father must have taken pity on me because for the balance of our journey he eased up considerably on his mission to refashion me as a slightly taller version of himself. We arrived home late this evening, and Mother’s embrace and smile of relief comforted me no end. Never mind my goals in life. All that mattered to Mother was my safe return to Barrett Farms.

About the Author

An award-winning author of seven novels, Claudia Riess graduated from Vassar and resides in Manhattan and Westhampton Beach. Her most recent novel is the fourth book in her art history mystery series. “To Kingdom Come” will be released in Spring 2022 by Level Best Books.

Last year, Riess signed a second three-book contract with Level Best Books to continue the series that began with “Stolen Light.” The plot involved murder, the Italian Renaissance, and the Cuban Revolution—as well as a love story. The book was chosen by the Vassar travel program coordinator and the Vassar Latin American professor for distribution to the participants in their 2017 “people-to-people” trips to Cuba.

The latest suspense novel set in the art world, sleuths Erika Shawn, art magazine editor, and Harrison Wheatley, art history professor. Now married, the couple is caught up in a multiple-murder case involving the repatriation of African art and artifacts seized by the British in the late nineteenth century during the colonial era. Much of the action takes place in London, scene of the crimes and quest for redemption.

“Riess uses words as an artist uses a paint brush; the pages come to life.” –Joseph Epstein, Ph.D

“Mystery. Passion. Crime. What more could a book-lover want!”
–Elizabeth Cooke, author of the Hotel Marcel Series

An engaging speaker, Riess has recently given several author talks via Zoom for libraries* and is scheduled for future Zoom and podcast events at more venues. Subjects include “Anatomy of a Murder Mystery,” “Dangerous Liaison: Fiction and History,” and “The Joys and Perils of Creating a Mystery Series.” Her talks are of interest to both authors and readers.

*“Thank you for a fun evening. It was very interesting to hear about the process of writing.” 
–Jocelyn Ozolins, Head of Reference, Shelter Island Library

Claudia Riess has worked in the editorial departments of The New Yorker magazine and Holt Rinehart and Winston. She has also edited several art history monographs. For more about Riess and her work, visit

All four books in the art history mystery series are available through,, and at independent book stores. For bulk discount purchases, contact

Website ~~ Amazon


Burned: Death Plays with Matches (Paranormal Penny Mysteries) by Sarah Hualde

Stalking an old nemesis…

…she discovers a hidden plot.

As a deceptive advisor is snuffed out.

Penny Nicols brings her “gift” to Billington. Searching for her sister, she’s determined to stand her ground. One woman holds the keys to Penny’s link between her past and the present.

When is history better left buried? 

When the Raven is the one telling the story.

Dinah, Penny’s old advocate, is struck down before her eyes.

Penny’s long-distance friend T.C. continues to help her trail the whereabouts of her long-lost sibling and solve the mystery. Musical clues and manic relationships crowd the distracted Penny as T.C. supports her from afar.

Spades, the cat, charms the suspects as Penny untangles her omens.

Dinah may be victim number one, but Penny fears the Raven is just warming up.

You’ll love the sixth book in this binge-worthy paranormal mystery series because Penny and her sleuthing sidekicks dig deep to uncover the Raven’s evil plans.

Amazon ~~ Apple ~~ Kobo ~~B&N


“You don’t have to do this,” I pleaded. My eyes crossed as I stared at the gun barrel waving in my direction. The room smelled of sweat and sneakers. Not a smell I wanted to perfume my last breaths, but I had greater concerns.

“Come on, Penny!” My aggressor frowned with disappointment. “Don’t do this. Not to me.”

“Don’t do what?” I asked, buying time. I saw little else that I could do. Having a gun pointed at me wasn’t helping me problem solve. It was all I could do to stave off hyperventilation. The stink wasn’t helping.

“Enough with the therapy talk,” my opponent argued through heated tears. His hands flickered with what I hoped was a bout of second-guessing. “I thought you were on my side. You, of all people, have to understand.”

A penetrating boom rattled the air. The stench of gunpowder overpowered the previous funk. Smoke wafted toward me. My knees buckled, and I sank to the floor. Life didn’t exactly flash before my eyes. Only the sweet face of Titus Church steeled me against my present circumstance. If I died today, I’d never get to tell him how much he meant to me. Then again, it might be safer for him if I didn’t.

Over the last ten months, my tangles with near-death had escalated. From a fatal family scuffle in a gift shop to the intentional vehicular murder of a new friend, death was upping its game. In the last town, I barely escaped. My only out was to find a pivot point between the broken heart in front of me and the Raven smudged on his cheek.

The Raven tagged along, like my personal dust storm of doom wherever I went. This pesky bird, also known as the omen of death, kept me living a nomadic life. I never knew what drew him to me. I was nothing special. That didn’t faze him. His evil schemes sent someone to their afterlife twenty-four hours or less after he claimed them. Just to tease me, the Raven sprinkled song clues along my path. Those had led me to my current drama at the business end of a gun, begging for my life.


Only days before, my VW Bus and I sputtered to the edge of Billington. One of my discoveries about backroads travel was the lack of gas stations along the way. The bus delivered me to safety, puffing like an asthmatic cheerleader into the Big Bill’s Truck Stop. My cheeky black and white cat, Spades, lounged on my lap as I steered us into pump station twenty-one with a prayer of thanksgiving on my lips.

Truck stops were my favorite place to fill up. I could eat, shower, and pump gas all in one place. Plus, if the town wasn’t hospitable to overnight parking, I could trek back to the stop to sleep.

Godzilla, which I called my beast of a home slash car, was gassed up and cleaned just in time for a call from Titus, or T.C., as his paranormal podcast listeners knew him.

“Hey there,” I said, feeling chipper after my deliverance from near-strandedness.

“Well, well,” Titus chimed, echoing my good mood. “You sound cheerful today.”

“I feel it,” I responded.

I set my phone on the pull-down dining table and switched the call from voice to video. Titus’s bespectacled face beamed from his side of the screen.

“You look it, too,” Titus complimented me with a blush as our eyes met.

“Thanks,” I responded before explaining the skin of my teeth arrival in Billington. We chatted about nothing in particular as I drank a massive cup of ginger ale, and Titus sipped from his mug. His nose crinkled as the string from his teabag attacked him. The date-like call made me giddy, even if the feeling was one-sided.

“Didn’t you have pink hair the last time we met face to face?” Titus referred to my fading hair color.

“Yes,” I answered. “It’s changed quite a bit since then.” My dark roots with pinkish tips teased my clumsy self-awareness. “It’s a mess, now.”

“Not from my side of the screen.” His glasses steamed as he took another drink.

About the Author

Sarah lives in California, in a home that brings her happiness and hay fever. She loves God, loves her family, and loves freshly brewed coffee. She has a husband who cooks, a son who stop animates, a daughter who loves animals, a dog that follows her everywhere, and a turtle who scowls at her condescendingly.

Her mother raised her on Mary Higgins Clark, Diane Mott Davidson, and Remington Steele. Her grandmother shared True Crime stories with her as they plotted how to get away with the perfect murder. It's no surprise that Sarah became an award-winning spinner of suspenseful tales brimming with quirky characters. Mysteries are in her blood. Not that she could survive one of her own stories. She confesses, "I'd be snuffed out by chapter two."

Join Sarah's Super Sleuth Squad and follow her on YouTube for behind-the-scenes insider info.

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Blog Anniversary Giveaway

One year ago this week, we started this blog. To celebrate, we are giving away a $25 Amazon e-gift card. Thank you to everyone who has followed us and to all the authors who have been featured on our site.

Now for the fine print: You must follow this blog by blogger or email to be eligible to win. Both options are available on the top left side of the screen. If you are not following by one of these two ways, all other entries will be disqualified. Hey, we have to get something for this! 😍 

Good Luck! Here's to another year!

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Hollywood Underworld by Lindy S. Hudis

Hollywood Underworld
Lindy S. Hudis
(A Hollywood Series)
Publication date: August 8th 2021
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Nick Savage was supposed to be the next sexy Hollywood heartthrob, until he turned up dead!

His personal manager, Dani Foxx, is a seductive former actress with spunk, guts and a take-no-prisoners attitude. She lives in the Woodland Hills section of the San Fernando Valley with her teenage daughter. They must survive and protect each other in the world’s most glamorous and sin-filled city. Then an unidentified body discovered under the Santa Monica pier is found to belong to the up and coming young actor.

Dani’s partner, the dashing and charismatic A.J. Tarentella, is the son of a mob boss, raised in a ruthless crime family. He now is the proud owner of the Tarantella Agency, a Private Investigation Company located in the heart of Beverly Hills. He used his father’s work ethic, connections and family ties to build his powerful business empire, and now he is always there to help those in need.

When another gorgeous nubile actress on the brink of getting her breakout role mysteriously vanishes as the body of a beautiful young girl is discovered in Runyon Canyon park in the Hollywood Hills, Dani realizes this is no coincidence. Who is targeting young Hollywood stars? And more importantly, how can Dani stop them before the next body surfaces?

Together, A..J. and Dani find themselves tangled in a web of organized crime, Hollywood secrets, and a vengeful faded movie star with a lethal vendetta.

Goodreads / Amazon


Chicago O’Hare airport was chaotic, crowded, and bursting with activity. However, Mark Jackson didn’t mind. He was used to dealing with crazy environments and a bustling airport was easy for him to maneuver around in. Having grown up in Chicago’s notorious Cabrini-Green housing project, he was hard and tough enough to handle anything.

“Good morning.” A very attractive blonde woman in a flight attendant’s uniform smiled at Mark as he strode confidently past. He had that effect on the female sex. Mark was twenty-six years old, tall and an incredibly handsome African American man. He was so good-looking that people were known to stop and stare. His male model good looks were what gave him the assertiveness to walk with his head held high and his shoulders back. His mother taught him to be proud of himself and to keep a positive attitude. It was what kept him sane while growing up in such a dangerous and crime-ridden neighborhood.

“Hello there.” A slinky brunette in a yellow sundress gave him a sly wink as he walked into the small gift shop. He nodded in acknowledgement but kept to himself. Mark was incredibly ambitious, and his dreams of getting out of the projects and becoming a movie star were what kept him alive and gave him the will to survive his difficult childhood. Today was an auspicious day for Mark, it was a day he has been daydreaming about and hoping for all of his life. Today, he was going to board a west-bound airplane heading towards Los Angeles, and his dreams of fame and fortune were going to come true.

Mark purchased some candy, a pack of gum, and some movie magazines. They were the same magazines he kept hidden under his bed growing up, as his mother forbade him to read such publications.

“Trash!” His mother used to say as she tossed the offending rags into the garbage chute. “You don’t need to be reading that junk.” 

“But Mom, I’m just as hot as these actors, even more so.” Mark would protest, as he envisioned himself on the cover of one someday.

“Yes, you are a very good-looking boy, but you stay humble. Remember your beginnings.” His mom would stroke his hair and kiss his forehead. He didn’t have much in the way of material possessions growing up, but what he did have was his mother’s love, and for that he was thankful, for it gave him the very foundation that he needed to thrive in life.

“Of course, Mom.” Mark would reply. He did stay humble, but over the years his drive and determination to escape the projects and become somebody grew. It was a feeling and a conviction that burned deep inside of him, piercing him in the very depths of his soul. He knew he had to get out of the dreary existence he found himself trapped in, but how?

Mark took odd jobs in and around the tough and dangerous neighborhoods of Chicago. When legitimate work was scarce, he turned to illegal activities for survival and to feed himself and his mother.  He worked as a drug runner, delivering to addicts and crackheads. The work was perilous, frightening and harrowing, but it kept him and his mother alive. The Chicago projects were a cesspool of drugs, gangs and illicit activity, and he maneuvered through the treacherous world with diligence and determination. He managed to subsist and keep his head low. He and his mother were eating and had clothes on their backs, and that was all that mattered. He wanted them to escape that life, but it was very difficult and hopeless. The walls of the well became more slippery with each drug deal.

Then one day, as fate would have it, a low-budget horror movie was being shot in the area. Several of the local residents were offered odd jobs on the production, and Mark was one of them. His duties consisted of cleaning up the set when the crew had left for the day and to assist any of the location managers who were unfamiliar with the area. The residents were apprehensive and curious about the film crew that seemed to invade the neighborhood, but Mark saw this as an opportunity. He never missed a day of work, even when it continued into the early hours of the following morning. His mother was glad to have the extra cash and Mark started introducing himself to anybody who would speak with him.

“Excuse me.” A good-looking and kindly man approached Mark one day and he immediately recognized him as one of the actors. “Is there a nice bar around here? I’ve had a long day and I could use a drink.”

“You don’t want to go to any bars around here.” Mark warned, shaking his head. “Trust me, you want to go back to your hotel before it gets too dark.”

“I’ll do that. Thanks for your advice.”

“You’re welcome.” Mark smiled and was flattered that his recommendation would be asked.

“I’m Nick Savage, by the way.” The handsome man extended his hand in a congenial manner. Mark was quick to shake it with a grin.

“I’m Mark Jackson.”

“You live around here?”


“Tough break. Come on, let’s go. I’ll buy you a drink.” Nick plopped an amicable arm around the young man’s shoulder. With that, the two of them grabbed a taxicab to Nick’s hotel and sauntered into the bar area. They ordered a pitcher of Coors Light and became fast friends.

“Have you ever thought about leaving? Getting out of this hell-hole and making a break for it?” Nick asked him.

“Everyday. I think about it every day.” Mark shook his head dejectedly. He knew he had his sickly mother to take care of and he also had limited funds. He told Nick about his big dreams, of leaving the tough, mean streets of Chicago and heading out to California to become an actor.

“L.A. is the place to be. A guy with your looks would have no problem in that town. Trust me.”

“Thanks, but I got no connections.” Mark shrugged, taking a sip of his drink.

“Ya got me.” Nick told him with a warm smile, swallowing the last of his beer.

“How do I do it? I can’t get up and leave my momma. She’s sick.” Mark responded. Although the temptation was certainly there, he had family responsibilities. Since he was an only child, he was the sole caretaker of his ill mother.

“Let’s keep in touch. If you ever want to make the trip out to L.A., give me a call. I can show you the ropes, introduce you to some of my buddies, and even help you find an apartment.”

“Thanks, man. I’ll do it.” Mark was glad to have made even one contact in Hollywood.

When the film wrapped, Nick went back to Los Angeles and Mark did his best to communicate with his new West Coast friend. Since Mark had no computer or Internet access, he would venture to the public library to e-mail Nick. He even set up a Google and G-Mail account for himself. So, through the years, the two of them developed a long-distance friendship. Nick told him all about headshots, unions, agents and managers. Mark was enthralled and was even more strong-minded in his determination to make his way to Hollywood.

Then, sadly, Mark’s mother finally succumbed to the painful and debilitating cervical cancer she had fought with. On her death bed, she whispered to her only child to move on with his life.

“Do what makes you happy, Mark. Go after your dreams.” She told him in a barely audible whisper, and then she quietly passed.

“I will, Momma. With you watching over me, I can’t lose.” Mark bent down and gave her a gentle kiss on her forehead, as she had done to him so many times.

Mark collected a modest life insurance settlement and purchased some new clothes, a smart phone and iMac. With that, he packed up his few belongings and informed the Chicago Housing Authority that his apartment was going to be available. Then, he took a deep breath and headed west.

As Mark sat in the airport bar, slowly sipping a cocktail, he pulled out his new smart phone and dialed Nick’s number, getting his voice mail.

“Hey Nick, I should be in L.A. in about five hours. I’ll give you a call when I get there. I’m at the airport now. I can’t wait to see you, man. Hope all is good.” Letting out a loud but satisfied exhale, Mark took a sip of his beverage and people watched. He felt as if he belonged for the first time. No more dangerous life in the projects, no more waking up in the night to the sound of gunshots, and no more cruel and freezing Chicago winters. He was venturing out on his own for the first time after years of taking care of his mother. The thought both frightened and excited him. There was nothing for him in Chicago and he knew that. Mark was ready to start the next chapter in his life, and he had no intention of ever looking back.

The people scurrying by amused Mark, and the serious and often sour expressions on their faces frequently baffled him. If they only knew where I came from! Mark had kept his dreams alive and beaten the odds by always remaining confident and optimistic. He attributed this to his mother and her strength through adversity. She had told him many times about how being confident can affect your mood and even change your life. Even though they lived in poverty and vulnerability, his mother remained a good role model for him and taught him to have a positive attitude no matter what.

“Flight 261 Non-Stop to Los Angeles is now boarding at gate 36.” The booming announcement roused Mark back to reality, and he gulped down the last of his drink. He hot footed it over to gate 36. He didn’t intend to be late.

About the Author

Lindy S. Hudis is an award winning filmmaker, author and actress. Lindy is a graduate of New York University, where she studied drama at Tisch School of the Arts. She also performed in a number of Off-Off Broadway theater productions while living in New York City.

She is the author of several titles, including her romance suspense novel, Weekends, her “Hollywood” story City of Toys, and her crime novel, Crashers. Her latest release, “Hollywood Underworld – A Hollywood Series” is the first installment of a crime, mystery series.

In addition, she has written several erotic short stories, including “The S&M Club”, “The Backstage Pass”, “Guitar God”, “The Guitarist”, and “The Mile High Club”.

Her short film “The Lesson”, which she wrote, produced and directed, has won numerous awards, including ‘Best Short Film’ at the Paris International Film Festival, The Beverly Hills Arthouse Film Festival and the San Fransisco International Film Festival.

She is also an actress, having appeared in the indie film Expressionism, the television daytime drama “Sunset Beach”, also “Married with Children” , “Beverly Hills 90210” and the feature film “Indecent Proposal” . She and her husband, Hollywood stuntman Stephen Hudis, have formed their own production company called Impact Motion Pictures, and have several projects and screenplays in development. She lives in California with her husband and two children.

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