The Great Tree by Able Barrett

I’m happy to be joining the blog tour for the “Christmas Fable” – The Great Tree by Able Barrett. This is a short, readable story, which I thought would be a perfect bedtime read-aloud to children, too!

Here’s the scoop:

Synopsis (from Amazon):

Andrew and his older brother Nicholas were separated as children.

Nicholas had been snatched away by the Prince of Darkness, and Andrew had all but given up hope, but now their mother is ill, and he’s determined to reunite them before she passes – despite her objections.

With his dog Jenny by his side, Andrew sets out on an epic and perilous crusade well beyond his wildest imagination, facing evil protectors, giant wolves, dark magic, Sorcerers, Goblins, and even the Prince of Darkness himself.

Then there’s The Great Tree.

It’s enormous, with a presence that’s nearly impossible to describe…

And it’s clearly the heart of the kingdom of the wicked Sorcerer.

This is the setting for the adventure story that changed Christmas forever!

But wait! There’s more!

Young people and adults of all ages will enjoy this thrilling fable in the same way we’ve enjoyed other great Christmas stories of the past.

Jenny the dog is based on a very real Jenny, the author’s vision of a true warrior – who has her own inspiring story that he’s happy to share with anyone who asks.

All proceeds from the sale of The Great Tree go to The Last Road Dog Animal Sanctuary to rescue unadoptable dogs, cats, and horses, an approved 501 (c)(3) Animal Public Welfare Charity that greatly appreciates the ongoing support of readers like you!

Here’s a little bit about the author:

Able Barrett is a former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney and U.S. Department of Justice Organized Crime Strike Force Prosecutor who shamelessly admits he loves animals more than most people, and he’s the manager of The Last Road Dog Animal Sanctuary.

I’ve included today what I’ll call Everything You Ever Wanted to Know but Weren’t Able to Ask – Interview with Able Barrett:

How did you do research for your book?

I start of course with my own knowledge; from there I am pretty impatient so I go to the internet and reliable sources. Since my books are mostly fiction I can make up anything I want, although I like to be as close to the truth as possible to make it believable which is always a goal of mine.

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?

Nicholas was the hardest; here is a guy we swept away by the Prince of Darkness as a kid and transformed into something he was not; but he remembers deep in his soul what he was like. The easiest was Andrew and Jenny; that was me and my girl Jenny, so very easy.

In your book you make a reference to….how did you come up with this idea? What made you write a book about…? Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

I was working on a project and as I sat in my office out the window I saw this huge tree sitting on a hill in the distance, shaped perfectly and it came to my mind immediately what a “Great Tree” and the rest just fell into place.

There are many books out there about….What makes yours different?

I could not find a book/story about how Santa Claus (St. Nick) came to be; also how did this Christmas tree celebration come to be. It may be the first book about how St. Nick and Christmas Tree celebration came to be; at least to my knowledge.

What advice would you give budding writers?

Just go for it! Don’t let any excuse stop you. Failure is not a good reason not to try; otherwise nothing would get done.

Your book is set in (name place). Have you ever been there?

The Great Tree is set somewhere between the 7 Kingdoms, Middle Earth, and the Shire. Great places that I love in lore and from great writers.

In your book you state….why is that?

Two young men together were the only powers on earth that had the power to defeat the evil before them. It is the key to the book and story, without it, the story fails.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?

That is an easy one Andrew and Jenny; that was me and my girl Jenny, so very easy.

Do you have another profession besides writing?

I am manager of The Last Road Dog Animal Rescue where we have a home for the unadoptable dogs, cats and horses that otherwise would be homeless or worse. I get to

spend every day with my animal buddies which is a life all dream; while at the same time to write; nothing is better than that for me.

How long have you been writing?

The Great Tree only took 25 years to finish.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

Absolutely. Drop it for a while then just jump back into when you least expect it and boom you are at it again.

What is your next project?

“Life Beneath the Surface.” It is about a man that wakes up in the sweat lodge of an Indian medicine man, who just brought him back to life, when all else failed. He has a little memory of his past except that he remembers his wife, Aurora, was killed. It goes from there…

What genre do you write and why?

Fiction; fantasy, animals and sometimes epics, but always a good yarn!

What is the last great book you’ve read?

The bible.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?

“I really like your story but really loved the pictures!”

How are you similar to or different from your lead character?

I was a young man very similar to Andrew, as his persona is that of my own at that age, at least from my perspective, in particular his love of Jenny.

If your book were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?

Andrew: Timothee Chalamet

Nicholas: Tom Holland

Aurora: Sydney Sweeney

If your book were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?

A movie score by Hans Zimmer; Lead Song by Lady Gaga; and Directed by Antoine Fuqua

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?

Making it as perfect as you can; proofed to perfection and getting the pictures to match your mind’s eye and then getting people to read it!.

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?

Long and winding road!

What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Just go for it. You will be surprised what you have inside you, that just needs a jump start to get going, and the you will have a great fun doing it.

Which authors inspired you to write?

J. R.R. Tolkien

George R.R. Martin

Jack Kerouac

Dr. Seuss

Jack London

What is something you had to cut from your book that you wish you could have kept?

A deeper dive into the personalities of Andrew and Nicholas but it slowed the pace of the book too much.

On rituals:

Do you snack while writing? Favorite snack?

Nope! I work best on an empty stomach.

Where do you write?

In my office with my dogs all around me. The atmosphere is perfect.

Do you write every day?

It goes in spurts. Days at time and then a break, sometimes caused by life’s ever-changing events.

What is your writing schedule?

Late nights when it is quiet.

Is there a specific ritualistic thing you do during your writing time?

I like having a movie I have seen a million times but has a good soundtrack in the background.

In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

I have because it is actually faster and you can do an outline form much faster, at least in my case that sometimes is the only way to keep up with my brain pumping out ideas quickly and rather in random order.

If you’re a mom writer, how do you balance your time?

I am a dad to my dogs, and I find the time with them is in balance at all times.

Fun stuff:

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

431 BC – 404 BC to the Greek and Sparta era; the time of my ancestors!

Favorite travel spot?

The beach.

Favorite dessert?

Don’t like deserts; but I would like to visit the Sahara Desert.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you?

Boat building book for novice; Edible native plants; and The Bible.

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?

My compassion and caring for animals.

What is something you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?

That is my life; it didn’t change much during the pandemic, because I pretty much stayed at home most of my life anyway; it is typical, not atypical.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?

Kojak – he is of Greek heritage too.

What is your theme song?

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

What is your favorite thing to do in (current season)?

Playing with my kids (dogs and cats); going on hikes with them is wonderful, even better in the snow.

What is a favorite (upcoming holiday) tradition (or memory)?

I love watching It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. I first saw it when I was about 14 or 15 and I lived outside of Chicago, where I grew up. It was on the local PBS station. I started watching just when Gorge Bailey is on bridge and about to jump in to commit suicide when Clarence, his guarding angel, saves him. After the movie was over I went outside at about 1 in the morning and it was snowing big snowflakes outside and it was an absolutely beautiful night out, with the snow gently falling ever so gently. I will remember it forever.

What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?

Walking in Memphis

What is something that made you laugh recently?

When Jenny just starts to roll over on her back and scratches in the grass, always cracks me up as funny and happy because she is so happy.

What is your go-to breakfast item?


Hard Boiled Egg

Whole Grain English Muffin


Non-fat Milk

What is the oldest item of clothing you own?

I have t-shirts from high school days from the 1970s.

Tell us about your longest friendship.

I have some friends that we get together every year in summer that date back to grade school days, about 60 years; Rob, Will, Jimmy, Scott, and Cookie. Rob and I are the closest. I pray for their good health and prosperity every day.

What is the strangest way you’ve become friends with someone?

I saved (adopted) a couple of dogs Pebbles and Bambam from a no kill shelter in 2004; they had been dropped off when they were just puppies on the shelter doorstep; and had been there for 5 years. Pebbles was quite famous as she one night opened the gate to the puppies’ room and they found a bag of kibble and they all feasted until morning when they were found. Pebbles and Bambam were great dogs and I loved them both. The lady that helped me adopt them; we became very good friends from then on; even today.

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

An actress that went to my high school, before my time, but I still had quite a crush on her, even today, Ann-Margret.

Wow! That’s a lot of interesting info! This story did remind me a bit of the fantasy of Tolkien and the dog heroes of Jack London!

Thanks for sharing it with me and for making me a part of the blog tour!

I especially love that this story supports animals in need – I am a Rescue Mom myself!!

Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger

I love Lisa Unger’s books! They are SO suspenseful and well-plotted. This one was un-put-downable!

If you enjoy intense, suspenseful mysteries, pick up this one.

Thank you for my e-copy from Net Galley!

Three couples rent a luxury cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway to die for in this chilling locked-room thriller byNew York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger.

What could be more restful than a weekend getaway with family and friends? An isolated luxury cabin in the woods, spectacular views, a hot tub and a personal chef. Hannah’s generous brother found the listing online. The reviews are stellar. It’ll be three couples on this trip with good food, good company and lots of R & R.

But the dreamy weekend is about to turn into a nightmare. 

A deadly storm is brewing. The rental host seems just a little too present. The personal chef reveals that their beautiful house has a spine-tingling history. And the friends have their own complicated past, with secrets that run blood deep.

How well does Hannah know her brother, her own husband? Can she trust her best friend? Meanwhile, someone is determined to ruin the weekend, looking to exact a payback for deeds long buried. Who is the stranger among them?

The Prisoner by B.A. Paris

B.A. Paris has done it again with another heart-stopping thriller that I had to stay up all night reading!!

If you loved her suspenseful books in the past (Behind Closed Doors, etc.), you’ll love this one!

Thank you for my Net Galley copy!!

With Behind Closed Doors, New York Times bestselling author B. A. Paris took the psychological thriller to shocking new heights. Now she’ll hold you captive with THE PRISONER―a stunning new thriller about one woman wed into a family with deadly intentions.

USA Today Bestseller!

Amelie has always been a survivor, from losing her parents as a child in Paris to making it on her own in London. As she builds a life for herself, she is swept up into a glamorous lifestyle where she married the handsome billionaire Ned Hawthorne.

But then, Amelie wakes up in a pitch-black room, not knowing where she is. Why has she been taken? Who are her mysterious captors? And why does she soon feel safer here, imprisoned, than she had begun to feel with her husband Ned?

In the vein of Behind Closed Doors and The Therapist, multimillion-copy bestseller B. A. Paris is back with a gripping new suspense novel.

And Then There’s Margaret by Carolyn Clarke

Writer/Blogger Carolyn Clarke reached out to me about her new novel – deemed a “coming of middle-age dramedy”. It centers on Allie and her family and the changes that occur when her father-in-law dies and her mother-in-law comes to stay. Never on good terms with her mother-in-law, having her under the same roof, while Allie deals with perimenopause, a husband who has an attractive and very friendly co-worker, and two teenagers, is about enough to drive Allie over the edge.

Here’s the scoop:

Published by: Black Rose Writing
Release Date: July 21, 2022
Book/e-book available: Black Rose Writing and most online book retailers

See what others are saying on Goodreads and Amazon

And Then There’s Margaret touches on some of the all-too-relatable aspects of middle-age life mixed in with marriage and controlling mother-in-laws. In this women’s fiction comedy drama, Allison Montgomery finds her life turned upside down when her husband’s mother “temporarily” moves in and wreaks havoc on her peace. She discovers that the only way to survive the angst of family is to let go….and let be.

This was a fast and fun read to me, at times laugh-out-loud funny. And I really liked the ending, because honestly, until then, the more I read of the book, the less I liked Allie. She was incredibly self-centered and self-serving. And while I know that Margaret way overstepped some (all) boundaries, Allie seemed more like a 25 year old to me than a 45 year old. I kept hoping that she’d grow up a bit and think of someone other than herself. She was hilarious though.

Overall, this was a light-hearted and easy to relate to story. I could see it as a sitcom! Thank you for my copy!!

Here’s a cute video for an overview:

Thanks so much for reaching out and letting me read and share your novel!

Spotlight on BLACK STAR by Alejandro Mañón

I’m shouting it out today for the young author’s new novel because he was so nice, I couldn’t say no! You can find it on Amazon.

Here’s the scoop:

Every family has their own set of rules, their own ways of communicating and some of them have an obscure secret that they desperately try to hide from others as if it came to light, all hope would be lost. Meet the Quinns. They have the darkest secret of them all, and if they wanted their secret to remain as what it is, they would have to follow a list of simple rules: Number one: You must not trust anyone (Not even your own family). Number two: You must not speak out loud as someone could be listening to you. Number three: You must get rid of all the evidence. Number four: You must keep your friends close but your enemies even closer. Number five: You must not rest until your darkest secret is buried six-feet below the ground.

The Case of the Disappearing Beaune by J. Lawrence Matthews

My friends at Books Forward sent me a galley of this fun Sherlock Holmes tale, which takes place on Christmas Day. It stumped me and was a quick and enjoyable read. Matthews has the knack of writing about Holmes similar to the style of Conan Doyle, which makes his stories all the more enjoyable. At only 47 pages, it can be read in one sitting (if you choose). Get it for Christmas for someone you know who loves Sherlock and Watson! Thanks for my copy!

Here’s the scoop:

“As he did in his debut novel, One Must Tell the Bees, Matthews again delightfully twists our Sherlockian expectations with his engaging Christmas mystery, while staying true to the Canon throughout. This traditional Sherlock Holmes story is sure to become a perennial must-read for the holidays.” —Ray Riethmeier, BSI, editor of Sherlock Holmes: Stranger Than Truth and Sherlock Holmes: Stranger Than Fiction

Beaune [bōn] noun: a red Burgundy wine from the Côte de Beaune region of France.

Christmas morning 1902, London, England. A bottle of fine French wine from the Côte de Beaune region of France, intended as a gift from Mr. Sherlock Holmes to his old friend Dr. Watson, is found to have been drained of its aromatic spirits during the night and filled with sand. But not just any sand….

Thus begins this short, sweet holiday mystery from the author of One Must Tell the Bees: Abraham Lincoln and the Final Education of Sherlock Holmes (East Dean Press, 2021).

Praise for One Must Tell the Bees: Abraham Lincoln and the Final Education of Sherlock Holmes (East Dean Press, 2021)

“Beautifully Written and Immediately Engaging” —The Sherlock Holmes Society of London Summer Journal, 2022

“Brilliantly Executed.” The Coffee Pot Book Club

Spotlight on: The Phantom Glare of Day by M. Laszlo

Spotlighting a book that comes out this week and that I’m reading right now!


In this trio of novellas, three game young ladies enter into dangerous liaisons that test each one’s limits and force them to confront the most heartrending issues facing society in the early twentieth century.

The Phantom Glare of Day tells of Sophie, a young lady who has lived a sheltered life and consequently has no idea how cruel public school bullying can be. When she meets Jarvis, a young man obsessed with avenging all those students who delight in his daily debasement, she resolves to intervene before tragedy unfolds. Mouvements Perpétuels tells of Cäcilia, a young lady shunned by her birth father. She longs for the approval of an older man, so when her ice-skating instructor attempts to take advantage of her, she cannot resist. Not a month later, she realizes that she is pregnant and must decide whether or not to get an abortion. Passion Bearer tells of Manon, a young lady who falls in love with a beautiful actress after taking a post as a script girl for a film company—and is subsequently confronted with the pettiest kinds of homophobia.

Specific to their time yet unquestionably relevant for women today, The Phantom Glare of Day is a compelling interrogation of who gets to decide what is right and what is wrong.

A Note From the Publisher

M. Laszlo is the pseudonym of a reclusive author living in Bath, Ohio. According to rumor, he based the pen name on the name of the Paul Henreid character in Casablanca, Victor Laszlo.

He has lived and worked in New York City, East Jerusalem, and several other cities around the world. While living in the Middle East, he worked for Harvard University’s Semitic Museum. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio and an M.F.A. in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.

His next work is forthcoming from SparkPress in 2024. There are whispers that the work purports to be a genuine attempt at positing an explanation for the riddle of the universe and is based on journals and idea books made while completing his M.F.A at Sarah Lawrence College.