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Letters to Mary Susan: From her Outlaw Father

Letters to Mary Susan: From her Outlaw Father

Although this is a work of fiction, if you have any interest in American history, and the mystery surrounding Jesse James, I urge you to read Letters to Mary Susan: From her Outlaw Father by Jerry Hammersmith.

The story line comes from a story told to the author, by his father. It’s nice when the author’s father ‘appears’ in the book! The author points out that this is a work of fiction, but it certainly leaves you wondering. It has an interesting concept, as it is told in letters from the main character, and his flashbacks through his long life.

The majority of the book is set in a prison. A rather stark prison in the 1920’s. It’s not a prison novel but rather the recollections of his life, by one of the prisoners. The story comes about as he is advised, by the chaplain, to write to his long lost daughter. She grows to know her father, who was presumed dead, through his letters.

The main character is Jim Howard, who started life as Jesse James, and who spent most of his life as an outlaw. The book begins with him in prison at the age of 77. I certainly didn’t wish to feel sympathy for the character. I mean, outlaws are the bad guys. Aren’t they? It is not possible though not to feel a tinge of pity. Especially at the thought of somebody so old, in those conditions.

Jim doesn’t come across as a bad guy so you feel more and more sympathetic as his story progresses. This is illustrated by the fact that he was held in high esteem by others, throughout the various phases of his life. He didn’t always make the best choices, but many of the things that led to him originally becoming an outlaw, were out of his control. Stealing is like a high, which is one of the main reasons he couldn’t stop. This adds to the sadness as he could have had a good life, if he had stopped robbing people.

The chapters deal with his life, and wrong doings, in chronological order through his 3 incarnations; Jesse James, John Allen and Jim Howard. They deal with his life, and what he had to do to survive it, through being an outlaw, cowboy and farmer. He doesn’t try to present himself in a good light, he just tells it like it is, so his daughter can get to know him, and understand his actions.

There are some portions of the book that are a little repetitive. Some scenes are described several times. Also the swapping of first name and surname are a bit confusing. Especially as this is a character who has 3 different names already! There are some sentences where he is referred to as both Jim and Howard which takes some working out. But these are small annoyances and don’t detract from a good read.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a great, interesting, and poignant read.

Pages: 189 | ASIN: B077PH4STR

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A Thief and a Master of Code

Danny Estes Author Interview

Danny Estes Author Interview

In The Paranoid Thief Randolph finds himself thrown into a strange cell after being tried and convicted for an atrocious murder he did not commit. What was the inspiration for the setup of this novel?

At work and as an author, I use computers all the time. Because of the complexity of programming, only those who constantly read up and experiment with programming code can truly understand how to create the world we now live in. But as a writer I can briefly pretend I’m apart of these masters of code. Yet I’d like to be more. So Randolph came into being. A thief and master of code. Still, the start of the book had to introduce Randolph in way the reader could catch his personality and some of his flaws. As for the set up for the first few chapters, I simply considered what would happen if companies took over the global economy.

The Paranoid Thief is told from Randolph’s point of view and we’re often treated with a humorous look at the world through his eyes. How do you find moments of levity in dramatic fantasy novels?

I love action adventure movies. Thus I try to write in a style which is not always serious. For me to do this, I picture myself as the main character and try to see the world I created through his or her eyes.

Randolph and Jill are intriguing and well developed characters. What was your inspiration for them and their relationship?

Although Randolph is purely fictional, I have met people who have a split personally. As I like to throw in surprises, something to make readers think, I thought what would happen if Randolph had no choice but to cope with someone whose personality swings far to the right and left. I’m also a bit of a romantic, thus after some trial-and-error Jill was born.

What is the next book that you’re working on and when will it be available?

My next book is call Braxton Snow P.I. In this book animals are like people, and my main character is an arctic wolf. With luck I hope to have the story out in 2 to 4 months.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

The Paranoid Thief“In the year 2050, the United States is owned by corporations. Citizens are mere commodities used to make the already wealthy CEOs richer. Professional hacker and cat burglar RANDOLPH McCANN finds his skills sought after by average people seeking relief from the oppressive corporate system.

Then his newest client—a powerful city official—murders a family and leaves damning evidence aimed at him. As the court’s lethal injection crawls through his veins, Randolph vows eternal vengeance on the man responsible.

He awakens to find he’s been kidnapped from his execution by a corporation that uses death-row criminals to gain political power through theft and assassination. He’s assigned MAJOR JILL WANDER as a partner, a tough ex-military sniper with a dual personality who is also wrongly accused on the public record.

When a job goes south, they join forces off the grid. With Jill’s help, Randolph evades law enforcement and closes in on the man who double-crossed him. And he can clear Jill’s name at the same time—if only he can keep her from killing the wrong people.”

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Interview – Gelo R. Fleisher Gelo Fleisher, author of Shadowcursed, talks writing and indie game development all while working as a Certified Public Accountant. Kind of like Batman and Bruce Wayne… except he does your taxes afterward.


Is Shadowcursed the beginning of a series. What can readers expect from the rest of the series after Shadowcursed?
Sadly Shadowcursed is not the beginning of a series, but is rather a stand-alone story. Right now I’m not planning on writing another book in the Shadowcursed universe unless there’s a huge clamor for it (and I can think up of a good plot for a sequel). That being said, there is something of a semi-sequel in the works for the video game half of Shadowcursed. I’m an indie game developer as well as an author, and so after I wrote Shadowcursed, I built a free companion computer game titled ‘Requiem’ to go along with it. At the moment I’m about half way through a sequel to ‘Requiem’; here’s a screenshot of how it’s shaping up. I’m still very busy writing though and I’m currently about 20K words into my next novel, which will be a sci-fi detective mystery. Though each of my stories tend to be very different from the other, I think if people enjoyed Shadowcursed, they’ll enjoy this one too.

Bolen’s rooftop antics were obviously inspired by games like Thief, but what was your inspiration for the character of Bolen and the city he lives in?
Yes, the Thief series of video games were by far the largest inspiration. The original titles in the Thief series, back in the late 1990’s, had these gorgeous painted cut scenes. I was always struck by the somber beauty of their art, and the visual feel and timbre of Shadowcursed is an homage to them. The actual inspiration for the plot and characters came from different sources. The initial story inspiration was the idea of a thief having to destroy something beautiful in order to do his job. The main character, Bolen, grew out of this idea – that of a thief at the end of his career, doing one last heist that forces him to commit what ends up being a terrible crime, and makes him to reflect on his life and choices.

Shadowcursed is part of a fan mission you created for the game Thief called Requiem. How do these two mediums fit together for the overall story?
Plot wise, Shadowcursed and Requiem are very different. They both star Bolen and other characters from Shadowcursed, and they take place in similar settings, but they tell totally different stories. You can sort of consider them as being in parallel universes. What they do have in common are the same visual feel (being both inspired by the same source material) and narrative themes, regarding the fixing of past wrongs and the uncovering of a long buried evil. Because one (Shadowcursed) is a book, and the other (Requiem) is a computer game, they use very different narrative devices to tell their stories, but if someone wants to actually step into the shoes of Bolen, and navigate their way around a fantastical medieval setting (instead of just reading about it), then I think they’d enjoy Requiem. And best of all, it’s completely free.

You recently won Square-Enix’s Thief level design contest for Requiem, the companion fan mission to Shadowcursed. How does a Certified Public Accountant become a video game creator and writer?
Lots of late nights and a very supportive wife :-). I think a lot of people start out with dreams of pursuing a creative path (whether it’s writing, or art, or music, or game design) but soon find all their energy being sucked out of them by their day job. To counteract this, it’s important to surround yourself with people who you can interact with to keep your creative passions alive. For me it’s my family, my church, and a writing group that I’m part of. And of course you need to put in the hard work to actually get good at your passion, even if that means sacrificing some of your free time. But if you can do it, you can look back in a few years and realize that you’ve actually created something and shared it with the world, and that’s a great feeling.

Follow Gelo’s exploits at

Review: Shadowcursed by Gelo R. Fleisher

Shadowcursed 4star

Bolen is an aging thief in an ancient city where the Mad King rules with an iron fist. Bolen takes on a job to bring in some money. To him the job is like any other, but what he finds reveals a dark truth about the city he’s come to know and the Mad King everyone has come to fear. As Bolen spirals into depression he is perilously thrust into the maw of a war between the Mad King and a mage that has secretly ruled the city for centuries.

You know a book is good if you get to the end and you’re sad to see that there are no more pages to read. Shadowcursed is a short book, about one hundred pages. The character of Bolen is well developed, at least as far as his inner turmoil is concerned. He’s a thief, so he spends his time climbing up buildings and leaping across rooftops, which is bad if your knees are shot and your muscles aren’t what they used to be. Bolen’s rooftop antics remind me of games like Thief and Assassins creed. While the character and his motives were fairly straightforward I was confused by the purpose of the statue that Bolen steals and the reason why everyone wants it. The reasons were explained, but they seemed to be conflicting at times. There’s a setup in the book for the larger story to unfold through the series and in the book were given hints of this larger world which seems to be full of ancient gods and cursed magics.

Pages: 110

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