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Russell Brice (Circa 1975)

As many know, I was adopted by my grandparents. Russell and Grace Brice provided for me and loved me. As a child growing up, I never saw Nan or Pop as anything more or less than loving parents. There were never any  physical fights (A few verbal differences of course but all families have those) between them but when I was 18 years old I was in my bedroom and heard Nan and Pop having a bit of a verbal fight out in the living room. I didn’t hear much of what was being said but the one thing that stood out the most was what my grandmother said. She said: “Cut it out Russell, or I’ll feed you bread and water like you use to have…”  Well, you can imagine what was going through my mind. I heard Pop leave the apartment and I went out to confront my grandmother about what she said. She told me some about Pop’s “dark past” but most was lost to the mystery of it all. I wouldn’t find out a lot more about Pop’s past until the early 90′s- after they had both passed from this world.

While researching newspaper articles in a library and after taking a bicycle trip to New York City, I found out  the truth about my Pop. After I found out did I love him less? No. I loved him more because of what he had to overcome to turn his life around. He was a very loving and beloved man who loved animals and kids as much or more than anyone I know.

I decided a long time ago that I wanted to tell his story as a tribute to him. I also want others to know that a person can change their ways and lead a very productive and respectful life even if it comes late in life.  As a disclaimer this excerpt and the book which will follow has truths in it but it also has embellishments since there are huge pieces of Pop’s life that only he knew about. He didn’t talk much about his past or his childhood and he certainly never talked about his “dark past”. He went to his grave believing that I never knew about those years. My grandmother told me that if he ever found out that I knew…”It would kill him…”   I have done extensive research on what I did know about his past and the times that he lived in. I also knew his personality and the kind of man or person that he was. Of course the news articles are not embellished and the prison that he lived in for close to 30 years of his life is as real as can be.  I hope you will enjoy the story …..

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Russ sat with his back against the cold hard wall of the box car and listened to the freight train as it rumbled and squeaked along miles and miles of tracks.  The  sound of the engine’s steam whistle was both pleasant and eerie and it served as a catalyst  to the memories of his past and to the hopes and dreams of his future. 

It was quite an exciting but scary adventure for Russ to venture out and leave his boyhood and family behind. He had just turned sixteen on October 25th, 1909 and he was eager and ready to go when Spring arrived; the warmer weather finally chasing away another brutal winter in Green Bay.

Times were busy growing up at the turn of the century. Motor cars were the talk of the town and a man by the name of Henry Ford was just a few short years shy of mass producing them in the form of the Model T or also known as the Tin Lizzy.  The lumber and paper industries were flourishing in his hometown of Green Bay and it seemed that everyone was excited about life. Roads, trolley cars and train tracks were expanding at a very fast and furious rate and the city of Green Bay had just expanded by uniting with Fort Howard in 1895. Although only two years old at the time, Russ later remembers playing with a Kazoo when he was five and being told the story of what a great celebration there was when both cities united to become a larger Green Bay. Cannon fire, whistles and kazoos could be heard all around the city as people marched in the street with joy in their hearts. Not one arrest was made during the celebration and all was well with the people of the new Green Bay. It was undoubtedly a good place to grow up as a boy and even though there were some tough times, his grandmother took good care of him and his sister Emily.  Russ had been pampered a lot more than his sister was because at the age of seven Russ had come down with typhoid fever and it almost killed him.

 The year was 1900 and while most of the homes in Green Bay were equipped with in door plumbing, including his parents house, Russ’s friend John lived in a house that still dumped their chamber pots out in back of their house. Russ would be out playing with John during the hot summer months and when they needed a drink they would go to the well which had recently been drilled about fifty yards from where the human waste was being dumped. Unfortunately the sewage finally seeped into the well system and on a bright summer day in July of 1900 Russ began to develop a fever and a cough with rose spots appearing on his stomach and chest. A week later his fever spiked to 104 and he was admitted to the hospital where he soon went into a coma. He would never forget what it was like when he woke from a two-week coma. His older sister Emily was by his bedside when his eyes finally opened.  She was so excited that she ran out of the hospital room yelling to their parents, “He’s awake! He’s awake!” Russ felt something in his mouth and reached in with his finger and pulled out a bunch of peanut butter like crud that had built up on the roof of his mouth over the two weeks he was in the coma.  Finally, with a full dose of antibiotics he soon recovered but the typhoid had damaged some of the circulation in his left leg. This condition would plague him later in life but it never held him back from doing what he wanted to do in life. 

A few years after his stay in the hospital, his mother died of pneumonia and his dad was too busy with work to care for Emily and Russ so they went to live with their grandmother in rural Green Bay.

Aside from keeping busy with school Russ liked to read the newspapers and he was especially interested in stories about a famous magician who had lived only thirty miles from him in Appleton, Wisconsin.  His name was Harry Houdini. In 1907, right after Russ’s fourteenth birthday, Harry Houdini came to Green Bay and performed a straight jacket and handcuff escape. Russ was hooked on Harry Houdini and followed the magician through his stories in the newspaper. He was especially amused and excited when Houdini would actually escape from jails while nude. Russ read everything he could get his hands on in regards to the magician and escape artist. In fact one of several reasons why Russ was leaving home was to live in New York City. This is where Houdini moved to with his father and family in 1887, just six years before Russell was born. Russ was hoping to meet Houdini one day and his wish would come true; only it would be in a place that Russ never intended to be.

When Russ finally got up the courage he told his Grandmother and sister about his plans to move to New York. Both shook their heads at him but knew how stubborn and determined Russ was and they knew that nothing or nobody would stop him if anyone stood in his way.  Russ explained that once he got a job in New York he would send back money to help them with living expenses. It was the least he could do after all they had done for him. Emily had spoken up before his grandmother had the chance and voiced her opinion and concerns. “Russell, this hurts me to see you go but you have to do what you feel you must do. I know you can look after yourself. You’re a big boy with big strong hands but use those hands wisely. You know the trouble you’ve been in before with the fights you’ve had? Well, just be careful. I love you.” Russ hugged his sister and immediately hugged his grandmother who already had tears welling up in her eyes. “Like your sister said, you be careful and please write when you can…” “I will grandma, promise.” Russ grabbed his sack of belongings and left through a weathered screen door and he never saw his grandmother or sister again…

Published NY TIMES: Feb 21, 1921 (Click to read larger view)

 

 

 

(Continued….)

 

 

By Dawn Kopman Whidden

Stolen  was written by Dawn Kopman Whidden and published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc.in 2014. You may purchase it at Amazon.com/Kindle. Visit the author on Facebook.

 

Another homicide has rocked the small town of Fallsburg, NY. In a cabin nestled deep in the woods two male victims are discovered,both gun shot victims. One is deceased the other one is barely alive. But it is not the murder itself that has detectives Jean Whitley and her new partner Marty Keal frantic to find out the answers of what occurred in that cabin, but it is the identities of the two small children also found at the scene. One child is quickly identified but the other a young boy remains a mystery. The only one with possible answers lies with the man who lay critically wounded and unconscious in the hospital because the unidentified boy either can not or will not speak to tell the investigators who he is and what happened in that cabin that left one man dead and another barely hanging on …

 

The author has written three books in this series: A Child Is Torn, Faceless: A Mystery and Stolen. I have read and reviewed all three. I loved the first one, liked the second one and was anticipating the third one to be another good interesting read. Stolen wasn’t good. It was as far above good as you can get- it easily exceeded all of my expectations.

The author brings back all of the main characters that we came to know in the first two books. All of the characters are so rich with personality that you can’t help but like them and it’s easy to relate to their struggles. The ingredient that makes  the chemistry of the story so strong is the ability of the author to mix fear and compassion into the character of a child. These are such competing emotions to have when trying to help a child but as a caring adult you feel strongly compelled to help in some way.  In Stolen
, for example, you will be introduced to Tristan. His behavior can be described as part wolf and part human. But, he is just a strange and troubled little boy who desperately needs help.

Aside from having very interesting characters, this story also has a few twists and turns in it that will awe you and keep your eyes glued to the page. I could not put this one down. The story flows easily.  
It’s very rare for me to finish a book in one day. With this one, I couldn’t call it a day until I finished it. It goes to the very top of my book shelf for this year.

I give Stolen 5 stars.

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/

Dawn Kopman Whidden will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday April 13, 2015 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.

 

By Dee Dee M. Scott

Sent From Heaven was written by Dee Dee Scott and published by Ahsyad Publication in 2014. You may purchase it at Amazon.com/Kindle. Visit the author on Facebook.


Best-selling romance author Maya Smith’s life is far different from the characters she creates in her novels. Left to raise a baby without the assistance of the married father, she has given up on finding a prince on a white horse to rescue her.
Enter Cardiologist and single father, Ford Tucker. Dr. Tucker is all work and no play. He has dedicated his life to work and raising his daughter. When Ford becomes Maya’s Cardiologist, he is instantly smitten with her.
Sparks fly and the passion’s hot as ever between the two. But just when Ford thinks he has finally found Ms. Right, and Maya thinks she’s found her prince, a devastating secret is revealed that will rock the core of their relationship. Will their bond survive the terrible secret? Or will Ford end up alone and Maya prince less?

When Maya meets her cardiologist her heart beats like never before.  The same is true for Dr. Tucker. Despite other obligations, both Maya and Ford find that their paths keep on crossing and a passion begins to burn. Soon they are deep in a very loving relationship and thinking about building a life together- but then something is revealed that is so troubling that it threatens to rip their relationship completely apart. Can they hold on?

While reading this love story  I kept thinking: There’s really nothing that stands out from this one and all of the other romance novels that are out there. 
Then out jumps a few quick interesting plot twists that absorbed me into the story and I found myself reading the whole book in just two sittings.

Dee Dee Scott is an author with many books to her credit. 
I look forward to reading more of her work.

I give Sent From Heaven 4 stars.

 Dee Dee M. Scott will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday March 23, 2015 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.

 

By Mary Eatmon

Nine Houses:  Chronicles Of One Woman’s Triumph Over Abuse, Shame, and Neglect was written by Mary Eatmon and published by IXH Productions in 2015. You may purchase it at Amazon.com/Kindle. Visit the author on Facebook.

 

Mary never thought anything of the young man coming up on her porch to ask her for a cup of water. After all, it was a hot summer afternoon in Birmingham, Alabama. Little did she suspect that her act of kindness would change her life forever. He followed her into her home and attacked her, leaving her with a choice to make at the tender age of 15. She could put everyone at risk and tell her story, or she could live with the fear and pain of what happened and protect her loved ones.

Nine Houses shares Mary’s inspiring story of adversity, abuse and escape. It reveals the heart-wrenching tale of a young girl forced into a tumultuous marriage that lasted for 30 years and how she overcame the pain that accompanied the truth of what happened.

 

As I read Nine Houses, and learned of the rape and all of the horrible abuses that Mary and her children endured, there was one question that kept leaping out at me from the pages: WHY would anyone marry such a monster after being raped by him? The answers are there but in this particular case one would have to ask 15 year old Mary to get the honest answer and some of the reasons are alluded to in the book. You might also want to ask a psychologist who would label the behavior as  Stockholm Syndrome. The fact is Mary is not alone. Over 30,000 women fall victim to S. S. in the way that Mary did.

Once I began to read Mary’s story I could not put the book down. It pulled me into the incredible life of this very inspiring and talented woman. Mary faced a lifetime of terror and unimaginable horrors and yet, with her faith in God and love of her children, she has made a life worth living. Mary is now into her 80′s and she shows no sign of slowing down.

Her skill as a writer shines through in this book as the story flows nicely and is easy to read.

I give
Nine Houses:  Chronicles Of One Woman’s Triumph Over Abuse, Shame, and Neglect 4 stars.

 Mary Eatmon will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday March 2, 2015 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.
Please watch the trailer for Nine Houses here:

 

By P.S. Bartlett

The Blue Diamond- The Razors Edge was written by P.S. Bartlett and published by Libertine Press/Ravenswood Publishing in 2014. You may purchase it at Amazon.com/Kindle. Visit the author on Facebook.

 

Ivory Shepard, has made a name for herself as the notorious pirate “Ivory Razor,” while she and her handy cousins; Cass, Keara and Miranda are building a life in Port Royal, Jamaica. When she takes a merchant ship and finds a bag full of rare diamonds, including one very large blue one, she never imagined she’d end up captured and held prisoner by a rival pirate.
Maddox Carbonale aka “Blacksnake” intends to collect a fifty thousand pound bounty on her head and earn a pardon in the process, until a fiery attraction ignites between them. Regardless of their first passionate night together, by the time the sun rises the next morning, Ivory is reminded why she trusts no one and she’s left wondering if her fate is sealed due to Blacksnake’s greed or Maddox’s wounded ego.
Ultimately unable to deny his feelings for her, Maddox offers his loyalty and his guns.  but no one can take anything from Ivory Shepard that she doesn’t want to give; certainly not her freedom, and most of all, her heart.

Will she prove she can have it all on her own terms; the man, the blue diamond and her freedom?

A bottle of rum, a sword, a passion for the sea and a devotion to do what pirates do, steal, brings two swash buckling pirates together. One of them is a dangerous but charming male and the other; also a dangerous but charming female. These two strong but stubbornly determined characters set sail on their own separate journeys but soon find that they are both prisoners to each other, literally and figuratively.  Not only do they share a passion for the sea and sailing ships but they soon find they share a passion for each other but neither one of them knows for sure if there’s an ulterior motive involved.

P. S. Bartlett has once again served up a story that will capture the reader.  Her ability to enchant us with her skills as a historical fiction writer is just simply amazing!  As you read her books you are magically transported back to another time and I stepped away from her story wondering if her colorful and interesting characters really did exist. This author shines bright and she is someone who absolutely deserves the awards that she has already received for her other two books. If you are looking for a story that will take you away to another time and place and hold you there for many wonderful hours- this is the story. Grab your bottle of rum and settle in for a wonderful tale told.

I give  The Blue Diamond- The Razors Edge 5 stars.

 

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/

 

P. S. Bartlett will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday February 2, 2015 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.

 

 

By M. J. Moores

Time’s Tempest- The Chronicles Of Xannia was written by M. J. Moores and published by GWL Publishing in 2014. You may purchase it at Amazon.com/Kindle. Visit the author on Facebook.

 

Embarking as a guide into the death zones that are the Deserts, Taya leads a group of civilians who blindly follow a prophet obsessed with preventing the planet Xannia from environmental self-destruction. Here, Fate and Destiny wage war propelling an epic search for truth amidst 2000 year old lies, in opposition to a government bent on burying ancient secrets and anyone who goes looking for them.

As Taya desperately attempts to keep the prophet and his followers alive, this journey forces her to grapple with the circumstances of her past which have aligned to hurdle her into her darkest memories; making choices she never wanted to consider; learning truths she was never meant to know.

This story is an adventure into the vast and dangerous deserts of another world. It’s a brutal journey for a people searching for chronicles that could save their world. Their quest to survive the desert takes its toll on many levels. Their bodies are pushed to the limit and the knowledge they gain isn’t all that pleasant either but they are a determined group of people and they march on, searching for the truth.

M. J. Moores brings us this tale of fantasy and her use of description of place and development of characters held me to this story. She is a writer who knows her craft and she is well on her way to giving us more.

I give Time’s Tempest- The Chronicles Of Xannia 4 stars.

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/

M. J. Moores will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday January 5, 2015 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.

WHEN I LEARNED ABOUT THE REAL SANTA CLAUS:

I was about 8 years old when I met the real Santa. This is how it happened:

The old dial telephone on the wall began to ring in the kitchen. My grandmother answered it and said, “Tom, it’s for you.” I took the phone in my hand and answered “Hello…” I heard this really low deep happy chuckle “Hoo hooo hoooo!” I knew who it was. It was Santa!! He had faithfully called me every year since I was about 2 or 3 years old. He asked if I was… a good boy so I looked to my grandmother for help with that one. She was standing a few feet from me and she heard Santa through the phone. She smiled and nodded yes so I told Santa “Yes I am Santa…” and I continued to talk to him and told him what I wanted for Christmas. As we talked there was something familiar about his voice. As we finished up our talk, Santa asked to talk to my grandmother again. I handed her the phone and ran into the living room to look out the window.

From our living room window I could look down and see the tiny little white office building that served the used car lot which was next to our house. My Pop worked there and since I could see through a window into the office, I could also see that my Pop was on the phone!! I heard my grandmother talking to Santa in the kitchen and when she hung up the phone so did Pop. I ran out into the kitchen all excited and told my grandmother, “I know who Santa is!!” There was a bit of a let down and sadness after that but the next Christmas I was back to believing in Santa again.

I now knew who the real Santa was. He was there in the spirit of my grandparents. He was there when I was sick. He was there to see me off to school with a good lunch. He was there for my Birthdays and he was there even in my memory as he is right now…. Merry Christmas!!!!!

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/

 

By Carolyn Bennett

Coast To Coast Paranormal Investigation- The Journey Back  was written by Carolyn Bennett and published by Trafford in 2014. You may purchase it at Amazon.com/Kindle. Visit the author on Facebook.

 

In The Journey Back, Leigh MacLeod and her team of paranormal investigators have struggled to come back after an investigation at a haunted asylum devastated her team and left her fighting for her life. Just as it seems life is returning to normal, a terrifying nightmare, cryptic message from her dead father and suspicious text messages make her wonder if she will ever be free of the demons of Greenhurst Asylum.

After I read book one of this series, I was hooked into the story. I was excited to know where Leigh and the gang would be going next and if they could extricate themselves from the horrors that the first book delivered. The opening chapter shocked me. I wasn’t expecting that! As the story continues we are treated to another great read from this paranormal thriller. It touches the heart on many levels as it continues to chill the spine.

Carolyn Bennett seems to have found her niche as an author in book #2. Her writing skills continue to be  
top notch as this series has found a place on my book shelf.

I give Coast To Coast Paranormal Investigation- The Journey Back 4 stars.

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/

 

Carolyn Bennett will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday December 22, 2014 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.


 

By Carolyn Bennett

Coast To Coast Paranormal Investigation- The Journey Underneath was written by Carolyn Bennett and published by Trafford in 2013. You may purchase it at Amazon.com/Kindle. Visit the author on Facebook.

 

Eight years after her young husband’s death, Leigh MacLeod was finally able to realize her dream of starting her own paranormal investigative team. They set out to investigate some of the most haunted locations in Canada and the United States. Coast to Coast was the only team given permission to investigate the notorious Greenhurst Hospital, closed for over twenty years. No team had been allowed in because of reports of violent entities attacking those brave enough to sneak in after dark. As the team began their biggest investigation yet, they were not prepared for what was waiting for them in the dark halls of Greenhurst. Uncovering the mysteries of Greenhurst could be dangerous, even fatal for the Coast to Coast paranormal investigators.

Leigh MacLeod has a passion for investigating the paranormal and she also has a passion for the music of a well known singer, Aiden Lawson. She’s a fan. Aiden Lawson has a passion for the paranormal and a certain paranormal investigator by the name of Leigh MacLeod. Neither of them has ever met or knows of the other’s feelings for each other, until they meet at Greenhurst where they eventually investigate the dark and foreboding halls of the old abandoned hospital together. Immediately the Coast To Coast team is met with an evil presence and all of their lives are changed forever.

As a paranormal investigator myself, I’ve encountered numerous paranormal experiences but being fearful of the dark and what or who resided in it is rare. I’ve also read many horror stories where my heart has quickened its beat but this story literally sent a chill through me.

In my opinion, what made this story so good was the authors ability in developing the main character, Leigh, into a very likable person. Most readers will find they have a strong empathy for Leigh and the horrors that she goes through. This story has everything. A very good balance of romance, love, heart pounding excitement and a revelation at the end that will have you wanting to start reading book #2 of this series right away! This book is one of my favorites of 2014.

I give Coast To Coast Paranormal Investigation- The Journey Underneath 5  stars

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/

Carolyn Bennett will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday December 22, 2014 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.

By KJ Bagley

 

The Hierophants Bridge was written by KJ Bagley and published by Amazon Digital Services in 2014. You may purchase it at Amazon.com/Kindle. Visit the author on Facebook.

 

 The first book in the Kate Jordan series finds our young heroine thrust into a reality where the difficult choices are often made by the ones that feel the least qualified to make them. Trying to save the lives of those she thought lost and those she has never even met, Kate goes on a daunting trek into the unknown. The young woman that emerges from the rubble is forever changed from the child she once was.

The story starts off with Kate Jordan dreaming of a beautiful gray crystal lake, but just as she is ready to step closer to her dream place her high school track coach wakes her up from her day dream and impatiently prods her to the starting blocks.  But as Kate starts her run the lake is still etched in her mind and she bumps into a class mate on the track and tumbles to the ground. Kate is made fun of and laughed at. As a target of bullies, Kate struggles along and is supported by a few close friends, including her friend Derek, and of course her dad. Derek meets up with a confused and frustrated Kate and invites her along on a walk where she opens up about her day. Derek informs her that she has a lot more friends than she thinks and ushers her to a place that will change her life forever. Kate learns that her life was not what it seemed and soon she is in a world totally different than she grew up in.  A world of fantasy opens up to her, filled with amazing creatures and places that are very real. Kate now has incredible powers and now along with her many friends, she must find a way to defeat the evil in this new world and to achieve her goal of finding and saving her mother, who she thought had died when she was nine.

The author, KJ Bagley, creates characters and places that are likable and fun to imagine. The story has a good sense of conflict all the way through and the anticipation moves the reader along. There were a few places in the book however when I lost the flow of the story while trying to imagine the place, the plot and the intentions of the character(s) at the same time. Given all of this, the writing and storytelling ability of the author is good and will only improve as she continues with her writing career.

I give
The Hierophants Bridge 4 stars.

Please visit the author of this post: Tom Riddell: http://www.tomriddell.com/

KJ Bagley will be our guest on The Writers Lounge Blog Talk Radio Show on Monday November 24, 2014 at 7 PM Central Time- USA.