Friday, October 12, 2018

Spend Halloween in Creepy Hollow!

Hi. My name’s Jack Brady. Nikki Sweet is my cousin. Well, she’s not really my cousin, not by blood, anyway. But our parents are best friends and I’ve always called her grandmother Grandma Sweet. We’re family, and no one better say we’re not, because we are. So there. 

Tomorrow, October 13, is Nikki’s birthday, and I’m kinda writing this as a sorta birthday present for her. I’d better not tell you how old she is because she’d punch me right in the eye, if I did. Nikki’s one tough girl, I can tell you that. She’s brave and strong and way more smarter than I am. She likes to collect river stones, which I think is just really weird, and there’s one awesome stone she found one Halloween that became part of an adventure we had together. Nikki’s also really, really bossy and treats me like a little kid. I don’t always like that, even though we’re both still kids and almost the same age, though sometimes she acts like she’s my mother or my big sister. But she’s cool and awesome, and she has magical powers, too. That’s really cool, too, ya know?  She doesn’t have any parents, which always makes me sad, but she’s my best friend in all the whole wide world, and I love her. Just don’t tell her I said that or I’ll never live it down.

Now, not long ago, me and Nikki got ourselves mixed up in a couple of pretty crazy wild adventures. Not long after that, we met two authors named Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna. We told them our story but didn’t really think they’d believe us. But ha-ha — guess what? They believed us! They believed us so much that they decided to write two books about our Halloween adventures in Creepy Hollow, a really cool world of magic and strange places and creatures. Pretty rad, right? The first book is called Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin, and the second book is called The Power of the Sapphire Wand because that Black Pumpkin is what started our first adventure, and that Sapphire Wand was pretty important to what we had to do on our second trip to Creepy Hollow, which took place a year later, on Nikki’s birthday.

I think both these books about what we saw and did and learned in Creepy Hollow are not only spooky and funny, they’re also totally awesome adventures for middle-grade kids to read, too. We also learned a lot of really good lessons about friendship, good manners, loyalty, family and courage. 

It all started when me and Nikki found this weird black pumpkin in the forest near Grandma Sweet’s house one Halloween day. That was about the same time Nikki also found some crazy stone in the river — a magical stone it was, too! We also met this little silver skeleton that was some kind of talking wind chime named Wishbone, who told us that the ghosts of the Trinity of Wishmothers were trapped inside the black pumpkin and couldn’t get free without their magical Wands, which had been stolen by this evil dude named Hobgoblin, but then got stolen from him and hidden away by Wishbone. Of course Nikki and I jumped at the chance to help, so Wishbone took us to Creepy Hollow to get the three Wands he hid in three scary places: Red Crow Forest, the Tower of Shadows, and the Cave of Spooks. Wishbone’s friends joined us, too. One is named Ghoulina, and she’s a really beautiful vegetarian ghoul. The other is called Catman because he’s part man and part cat. Now that’s really, really, really rad! Believe me, we had a wild time, and we had to face danger and conquer monsters and bad guys every step of the way as we searched for the Wands before the wicked Hobgoblin and his sicko henchman, Tasmanian Devil, could find where they were hidden. And that’s all I’m gonna tell you about that adventure.

Now a year later, on her 13th birthday, Nikki discovered that she had magical powers. Totally amazing! But there were some bad people in Creepy Hollow who found out about that and wanted to kidnap Nikki. Then one night at Grandma Sweet’s house we were attacked by this ugly giant named Mutanto, who had a henchman called Howler and a whole gang of Werewolves with him. But before they could take us all back to their wicked witch of a boss lady, Evila the Grim Witch, Wishbone, Ghoulina and Catman arrived to save us and tell us about Evila’s plans to conquer Creepy Hollow. That’s when Nikki learned the truth about what happened to her parents twelve years ago. So me, Nikki and Grandma Sweet went back to Creepy Hollow to help our friends defeat Evila. That’s when I found out that I can talk to the animals in Creepy Hollow. How cool is that, right? We also met a herd of Wild Horses and I became good friends with Champ, a clumsy young colt. Hey, I even adopted a young, orphaned dragon I named Sparky. This adventure was so much more dangerous and scary than our first adventure, but I gotta tell you, me and Nikki conquered our fears and got really brave. In this awful big battle against Evila and her army we suddenly, with the help of some magic, became real warriors. And that’s all I’m gonna tell you about this story, too.

You’re just gonna have to read the books to find out more.

Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin is a 2017 Golden Book Award Winner.

The Power of the Sapphire Wand 

Creepy Hollow Adventures Books 1 and 2 are also available in a single, paperback volume with b/w interior illustrations.

Amazon b&w PRINT:

And both books are now available in this lovely, special hardcover edition from Barnes-Noble, with full-color interior illustrations. 

A few illustrations from the books:

Now here’s some really great stuff a couple of people have said about our adventures in the magical Land of Creepy Hollow.

“Szabo and Bonadonna’s story crackles with action and excitement. Their storytelling moves with the speed of lightning, but never lets the reader get lost. The atmosphere is just spooky enough to be fun but never enough to be too scary. Nikki and Jack are terrific characters. Their humorous bickering and genuine affection for each other make them very relatable. Wishbone Jones and Catman are good-natured foils for the snarky, sometimes cranky Ghoulina. Together, the band of heroes’ quick wits and courage in the face of deadly crows, evil Shadows, and wicked Spooks, will thrill anyone who picks it up. The megalomaniacal Hobart T. Hobgoblin is a great villain, who chews up the scenery every time he shows up. Though we never feel sorry for him, we learn enough about his past to understand him. There are also some valuable lessons to be learned along the way. Nikki and Jack must figure out for themselves that while selfishness and greed can lead to a bad end, courage and self-sacrifice can help defeat evil. Szabo and Bonadonna weave this into the story with great skill.”
~Fletcher Vredenburg

“I had the pleasure of editing The Power of the Sapphire Wand: Creepy Hollow Adventures 2, by Erika M. Szabo and Joe Bonadonna, and was instantly swept up into an adventure of limitless possibilities. Though written for children, I as an adult felt drawn into a mystical place where anything can happen—where children can be mighty warriors, and battle the forces of evil; where animals talk, and join in the fight; where queens and princesses join forces with commoners to save their people and their land; and where wishes really do come true. The Power of the Sapphire Wand is a wonderful, imaginative tale of adventure that is filled with exquisite original illustrations by Erika Szabo, and though it is the perfect Halloween treat, I find that it is a timeless tale that can be enjoyed by children of all ages anywhere, at any time of year.”
~Lee Porche

Erika M Szabo

Erika became an avid reader at a very early age, thanks to her dad who introduced her to many great books. Erika writes alternate history, romantic fantasy, magical realism novels as well as fun, educational, and bilingual books for children ages 4-12 about acceptance, friendship, family, and moral values such as accepting people with disabilities, dealing with bullies, and not judging others before getting to know them. Erika also likes to encourage children to use their imagination and daydream about fantasy worlds.

Joe Bonadonna

Much like Erika, Joe’s dad introduced him to books, as well as movies and music, at a very young age. He was encouraged to write as soon as he could hold a pencil. While Joe writes mostly Heroic Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Horror and Science Fiction for an older audience, he decided to reach out to a younger audience and write something entertaining, as well as educational. This is his first collaboration with Erika, and his first children’s book.

Hope you enjoy this video trailer for 
Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin.
You can check out Erika's special Children's Books for Halloween blogpost HERE

 Thanks, everybody!
Jack Brady

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Gunsmoke Serenade, by Thomas McNulty

The Gunsmoke Serenade


Thomas McNulty

Reviewed by Joe Bonadonna

Thomas McNulty writes 5-star westerns on par with Zane Grey, Max Brand and Louis L'AMour. I've now read and enjoyed five of his westerns, and he just keeps on getting better and better. From his prose to his characterization and action-packed climaxes, he helps keep the western genre alive and kicking. One day I hope to see him write his own epic, a magnum opus like Larry McMurty's Lonesome Dove.

In The Gunsmoke Serenade, Marshal Maxfield Knight see three gunslingers in the town of Cherrywood Crossing, CO, one afternoon. When they try to draw down on him, he outdraws and guns them down. Later, Knight learns that the gunmen had been hired to kill him by one Silas Manchester. Why? Could it possibly have something to do with the hanging of a bank robber and murderer named Cal Randal? Does this all tie in with the murder of Knight's wife? Knight doesn't yet know, but he intends to find out. 

This is the start of manhunt that soon turns into a deadly, guns-blazing cat and mouse game that Knight is determined to win, even though the odds are stacked heavily against him. When Knight is pinned down in the mountains by Manchester's men, a mountain man named Albert LaCroix saves his life, and together they hole up in a cave while they join forces and plan their strategy. 

Meanwhile, Deputy Cole Tibbs, growing more and more worried because Knight has been gone too long, sets out to find and help the marshal -- if he's still alive. From here on the action is fast and furious -- sort of a guerrilla warfare in the Colorado wilderness, and you'll soon see why the title of this excellent novel is The Gunsmoke Serenade. 

The game then becomes more interesting when an educated tracker named Castellanos, who was hired by Manchester to find Knight, makes contact with the marshal. He delivers a note from Manchester to Knight, who is basically calling him out to a face-to-face confrontation. This leads to a final showdown between Knight and Manchester, a battle royale between the two men that rivals John Wayne's and Randolph Scott's two legendary fistfights in the films "Pittsburgh" and "The Spoilers." 

With an graceful yet gritty style and a sharp eye for detail, as well as crackling dialog, colorful characters, and plenty of action that is well-written, well-choreographed and easy to follow, McNulty once again hits the bull's eye. You'll wince at every twig and bit of foliage that's stepped on, smell and taste the crisp mountain air, duck at every gunshot, and smell the tangy gunsmoke drifting on the morning breeze. McNulty is a master at writing westerns, and I look forward to reading more of his work. 

The Gunsmoke Serenade:

Thomas McNulty's Amazon Author page: 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin: Heroic Halloween Fantasy for middle-grade children

If you liked "The Nightmare Before Christmas," then you're sure to enjoy the world of Creepy Hollow!

Winner of the 2017 Golden Book Judges’ Choice Award for Children’s Fantasy.

In Creepy Hollow, it's Halloween all year long! "Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin" -- a spooky Halloween story for children, ages 8 to 14, written by Erika M. Szabo and Joe Bonadonna. Also illustrated by Erika M Szabo. Adults might like it, too!

Spooky and funny, a heroic fantasy adventure for middle-grade children. Nikki and her impish cousin, Jack, find a mysterious black pumpkin in the forest on Halloween. A wise talking skeleton, Wishbone, tells them that the ghosts of the Trinity of Wishmothers are trapped inside the pumpkin and can’t be freed without their wands. The children offer their help, so the skeleton takes them on a journey to the world of Creepy Hollow to retrieve the three wands he hid long ago in Red Crow Forest, the Tower of Shadows, and the Cave of Spooks. Ghoulina, the beautiful vegetarian ghoul, and Catman, who was once a man, join them on their quest. They must face danger and conquer evil every step of the way as they search for the Wands before the wicked Hobgoblin and his henchman, a Tasmanian Devil, can get their hands on them. This is a fun, humorous and touching story for kids, with plenty of character interaction woven into a backdrop of scary danger, heroic action and lessons to be learned.

“Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin” is available worldwide in paperback, Kindle, and Nook editions, and at a very reasonable price, too! Brand-new edition featuring a new cover and even more interior illustrations


Barnes & Noble: 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

WIND FROM THE ABYSS, by Janet Morris: A Review


My Review of Book 3 

Janet Morris'

The Silistra Quartet

This is the official Author's Cut, published in 2017 by Perseid Press.

This third volume is Morris’ masterful The Silistra Quartet delves deeper into the heart of her world, which is not only an echo of our own, but even a dark shadow of what the future might possibly bring. One of its themes is power — the power of technology, the power over our own natures, and the power to control others. Events take place shortly after those of recounted in The Golden Sword (book 2), and this time around, the main character of Estri, after having gone through so many changes and experiences in the first two novels, has been captured and held hostage for over two years by Khys, the tyrannical ruler of Silistra. She has become a pawn and a slave of this tyrant whose power over his world is all but absolute, a puppet master who will allow no one to stand in his way or speak out against him. Estri is forced to make sacrifices throughout her odyssey in order to liberate herself. He has had Estri’s memories “blocked” in such a way that it prevents her from being able to take control over him. This is a story about her soul, the loss of hope and even her sanity. It felt to me that as she gazed into the “abyss,” where the winds of despair howl and whine, she saw nothing but the abyss staring back at her. But there is hope and triumph to be found in her personal journey of rediscovery and the recovery of empowerment. This is a complicated, engrossing novel filled with prophetic, philosophical and socio-political themes, as well as complex, all-too real characters. Morris, so good at giving us characters we can identify with, characters we can love and hate, strikes at the very heart of the human condition and the duality of humanity — both good and evil. Her prose is lean and spot-on, every word carefully chosen to enhance the milieu of her imaginary world and advance the plot, giving us access to the thoughts, emotions and machinations of the people whose stories she is presenting to us. Once again, she gives us a “thinking man’s” science fiction/fantasy that explores the nature of power and sexuality, and how they can be used, misused and abused. This is a brilliant, mature and very adult novel that will not only leave you thinking about your own place in the universe, but questioning the very nature of existence. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

THE GOLDEN SWORD, by Janet Morris: A review


Book 3
Janet Morris'

The Silistra Quartet

Call it what you like: science fiction, space opera, sword and planet or erotic fantasy . . . The Golden Sword is all these things, and so much more. A highly intelligent and sensual novel filled with ideas and revelations, this is a gripping story that explores human sexuality and the role it plays in politics. Although the memorable characters are bisexual, toss away all your preconceived notions, for there is a humanity, a strength of will and determination, a realism and depth of emotion to these characters that will have you thinking twice about all you know and all you think you know. This is a book for mature and discerning readers who like some meat on the bones of the books they read. Janet Morris led the way for all the science fiction authors, both male and female, who came after. This is the second book in her classic “Silistra Quartet” series, which continues on through two more volumes. In this epic, second novel, Estri, the heroine of “The High Couch of Silistra,” ventures further than she ever has before into her exotic world of sensuality and politics. This time out, she encounters Chayin, a prince of an alien culture, and discovers more about her fate . . . past, present and future. This is a powerful, exciting novel filled with passion and adventure, ideas and thought-provoking philosophies. Janet Morris truly smashed through barriers and broke new ground with her “Silistra” series, and is still breaking new ground in these new, “Author’s Cut” editions that delve further and deeper into Esrti’s universe and into the grand vision the author had when she first set out to write this series. This is science fiction for thinking adults.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

HIGH COUCH OF SILISTRA, by Janet Morris: A Review


Book 1 
Janet Morris'
The Silistra Quartet

This is a novel that changed the game for women characters in science fiction, and the women who write science fiction. A daring novel for its time that still retains that same sort of power, it is a complex and highly intelligent read about one women's quest in the far future to find her father and her own identity, to find her destiny and make a difference in her world, to be a catalyst for change. Herein Janet Morris deals with issues of women's equality to men, their sexuality, the power of it, and how, in the simplest of terms, beauty, brains and sex can make a combination as potent as any nuclear blast. If memory serves, I think this novel was first promoted as a new breed of Sword and Planet, and later it was labeled Sword and Romance. What it is at its core is speculative fiction, futurist fiction that takes a serious, hard look at the universe surrounding it, and the main character of Estri and her place in it. She is an aristocrat who becomes and outcast, then a slave, then a ruler. Like all of Morris' books, there is a lot to think about in High Couch of Silistra -- questions of philosophy, sociology, sexuality, and governmental rule. Action and adventure? There is plenty of that. But this book was also carefully devised and structured, well plotted and deeply thought out. This is not a book for kids or for readers looking for a simple, pulp-action space adventure. The issues are real, the characters are real, and you will either find yourself agreeing with the politics and point of view; themes and questions will provoke careful consideration in the reader, and the story will make you think. Is the sexual content explicit or not? I don't think so, but you be the judge of that. I think Morris has handled the violence and sexuality was just the right touch, as she always manages to do. This book was ahead of its time upon its first publication, and while we have caught up to certain aspects of this novel, society still has a long way to go, and much of what passes for science fiction these days is still lagging far behind this novel. In my opinion, it has not aged at all and holds up even better than I had expected, a fitting tribute to a writer who books never grow old or outdated.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


This time around, I thought I'd try something a little different. Instead of asking author Lorraine Carey a bunch of questions and posting her answers, I'm doing a "change-up" and posting her bio, some photos and book covers, plus excerpts from her books, as well as her social media links and product links. So sit back and enjoy as I introduce to you my dear friend, Lorraine Carey.

Lorraine Carey is a veteran children's reading specialist, teacher and an International Award-Winning Author. She has taught in many states in the US and provided reading services for students at a private school on Grand Cayman, where she lives with her husband. Six years ago she was a city gal, living in Orange County, California, where life was very different from the one she lives now. Trading in her fashionable heels for flip-flops was quite a change, but led to a lifestyle that allowed for a writing career to begin.

Her love for paranormal stories and urban legends began at a young age, when staying up all night to watch spooky movies or reading a scary book started a lifelong passion.

Published novels include: Losing Ground, a short memoir, followed by Mysteries of the Red Coyote Inn, Out of the Ashes, Jonathan's Locket and The Last Vestal Virgin. All of these novels are paranormal with a mix of historical fiction, woven with urban legends. Beloved Sacrifice is a Supernatural Thriller for Young Adults to Adults. A Rock Star Reader by Kindergarten is a self-help guide for parents on creating a successful reader and lifelong lover of literacy. The Good Teacher: Women of the Willow Wood — Book 1, a Supernatural thriller, was Indie published and now under contract with Emsa Publishing. It is a projected series to include three books.

Most recent works include Camp Cougar, which is the author’s first attempt in the erotica field. She has teamed up with a co-author to create this hybrid, humorous erotica.

When not writing you can find Lorraine reading, beach-hopping, snorkeling, or boating around the island with her husband on their boat, the Angelica

Here's a synopsis of her novel, The Good Teacher: Women of the Willow Wood (Book 1)

When first-year teacher Daniella Reyes starts teaching at a new school she is frightened by the crows that follow her everywhere. Being a woman with highly empathic abilities and a victim of child abuse, she is tuned to pick up the vibes from abused children in her classroom. She’s desperate to help them while trying to cling onto a normal life with Luke. As she slowly discovers the secrets of a powerful, ancient cult, she finds out that her life is anything but normal as the hidden world of New Mexico opens up to her. She must make a life-altering sacrifice if she wants to save the children, her father’s soul and her own life.

Not since Practical Magic has a novel captured the essence of powerful magic and pure love where strong women in a family know no boundaries.

This supernatural thriller is Book 1 of Women of the Willow Wood.

And here's an excerpt from The Good Teacher:

Carmen attempts to get Dani to Santa Fe ~

 We headed up Interstate 25 doing about eighty miles an hour. “Just where’s the fire, lady?”
“There’s a storm coming, and I want to beat it,” she said with her eyes fixed straight ahead. “Besides, we have a noon appointment with Nina Santos.”
I was so tired and confused with everything I forgot to even ask about our lodging. “So where are we staying, pray tell?”
“I’ve booked us into La Moderna hotel. Two double beds, second floor, and breakfast is included,” she revealed.
Just the thought of breakfast had me queasy again. I had to lie down on the back seat for a bit. Maybe I could close my eyes, and it would stop.
“Holy Shit!” Carmen boomed
I jumped up. “What… what’s happening?”
I could see the dark clouds up ahead. They were headed straight for us. I don’t think I ever remember seeing such dark clouds as these before. They were thick and huge. The rain hit along with loud bursts of thunder. Then came the lightning. The rain was coming down in sheets.
“Pull over Carmen. I’m scared!”
Carmen drove a bit up ahead till we could faintly see a turn off into a small lot.
We sat as the car shook with the high winds and the rain pelted us from all sides. I thought the front windshield was going to give in.
“It’s going to be fine, Daniella. I had expected something like this. It’s all in line with being tested.”
“Being tested? What do you mean?”
“It’s a test of strength. The spell that was cast has built up energy, and because it went awry, low-lying negatives are trying to stop us by breaking this. You are the one who needs protection, not just your father. You are the gateway so to speak for paving the way to his soul release. There are those who want to usurp your power. They want to go along for the ride - and at a time when you are most vulnerable. It makes it easy for them.”
Them? I shivered. The rain pounded onto the windows. I covered my head and braced for shards of broken glass. We must have sat there for at least a half hour. It was not letting up. The winds were rocking the car back and forth. The rain had stopped, but it was black as pitch out there. It was as if our car was inside of a huge storm cloud.
“Carmen, maybe we need to get out of the car and lie on the ground like you do in a tornado.”
“No. We’re staying right here in the car. We’re far safer in here. They’re out there.”
“Who’s out there?”
“The skinwalkers.”
“Now you can’t be serious? Come on, Carmen!”
“You’ve heard of them, Dani. You grew up in New Mexico.”
 “I’ve heard stories but mostly thought they were shifters who roamed cattle ranches at night.”
“Not just stories. Now hand me my bag, please.”
I was beginning to feel as though I was in an episode of The X-Files.
Carmen took out a small vial of oil and a small container of some light-colored powder. She added the powder to the oil. “I’ve got to seal all the windows and doors with this magic mix. It’s a mix of pure white bark powder and Frankincense. It should keep them out.” Her voice was shaky, but she continued to speak. “They know you’re a high empath, and I a guardian. They can make us sick and murder us at worst.”
“Just cast one of your spells on them.” I was now in the front seat, and Carmen was in the back smearing the mixture on the doors and along the windows.
“Can’t. They’re in full power now. Our part is to see how we get through his. These are strong malevolent witches. They possess great knowledge of medicine and are also healers. To kill us would be a big win for them. They are feeding off of your powers Dani.”
       Feeding? Witches? I could only hope I’d get through this thing alive. The chances were slim.

You can find Lorraine's Blog Site, Amazon Page, and find her on any of these social media sites:


Lorraine's website


Amazon Page


Her blog is also featured on her website . . . and you can find all of Lorraine's books by clicking on the following links to

Buy Links for Books.

The Good Teacher~

Camp Cougar~

Mysteries of the Red Coyote Inn~

Out of the Ashes: A Dean Banks Adventure~

Jonathan’s Locket~

The Last Vestal Virgin~

Beloved Sacrifice ~

A Rock Star Reader By Kindergarten~

Thank you very much, Lorraine, for taking the time to participate in something different on my blog. Have fun in the sun!