Monday, April 29, 2013

When Bullying Goes Too Far

I recently read T. Allen Winn's novel, Dark Thirty, which exposes the torment that teenagers and younger children can experience at the whim of bullies.

After reading this book, I have come to the realization that there are three categories of students: bullies, bullied and the remainder and majority being apathetic and too self-absorbed to care about or take action against injustice.

I was also compelled to chat with my grandchildren about bullies in their school, and they had plenty to say on this subject. They also discussed cyber-bullying and how bold, cruel and vicious kids can be when they aren't looking a victim in the face, but degrading them to the entire world on Facebook. It offers the opportunity for any youngster to fully participate in bullying from a distance. It's a whole new ball game. My grandchildren didn't indicate that they have been bullied, but they have certainly known kids who have suffered from poisonous Facebook comments.

But back to the book. No youngster should have to attend school in fear of pain and/or humiliation, and Dark Thirty’s protagonist, Dale, is anticipating both as he counts down to the first day in a new school after relocating with his parents to Charlotte. He has been the object of cruel bullying before and fully expects to receive the same treatment at his new school.

Following their move, before the boxes are even unpacked, Dale’s family infrastructure begins to rapidly crumble before his eyes, and he must face his paralyzing fear of darkness. Amazingly, he meets a friend and neighbor, Debra, who seems to be able to relate to his fears. They both discover that bullying has progressed to a dangerous level in their community.

Dark Thirty will raise your awareness about this prevalent and disturbing issue. Are your children or grandchildren the bullies, the bullied or the apathetic? You won’t rest until you read the last page of this novel that deserves tremendous credit for successfully tackling this troubling and very real issue.

In the words of T. Allen Winn:

“Sixteen year old Dale Thomas Jackson wasn’t sure when the bullying had started, but what he did know is that it had never stopped. New town and a new school year assured only one thing--he’d have to break in a new batch of tormentors. Even he survived the bully by day, Dark Thirty waited for him at night. If darkness wins the tug of war, all will be lost. Dale faces this fear every day of his life and until now he has faced it alone.

Dale’s family moves to Charlotte, and a series of family tragedies leave him alone to fend for himself. He meets and befriends Ted Parker and Debra Floyd, and together they are pitted against a gang of ruthless bullies lead by Jake and the worst of the worst, Mack.

An anti-bullying movement is emerging, formed by Everett, possibly even darker and more sinister, posing a more ominous threat. Dale fears the dark and that adds yet another twist to the plot. One thing about bullying, you can’t pretty it up, so be prepared for the graphic side of what kids endure.

While fictitious, the thriller exposes the darker side of growing up and the vicious threats children must cope with to survive another day. Bullying is a serious issue and is no longer something as simple as name calling, a bloody nose or black eye delivered by a bully. Death has entered the scenario, and too often that punishment is delivered by the bullied taking their own lives.

Lesson: Know your children, talk to them and recognize the signs, bully or bullied. It may just save a life.”

About the author:

Tom lives with his wife in Pawleys Island and has a logjam of novels waiting their turn to see the light of day. He has also compiled over one hundred short stories. Follow T. Allen on Facebook, his blog at, and at,where he is a contributor of book reviews. Contact Tom at His books are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, most any place books are sold on line, (just type in T. Allen Winn), locally at Harbor Walk books store in Georgetown, S.C., at Upton Girls in Abbeville, S.C. or by contacting Tom and requesting copies.

T. Allen Winn's Publishing Journey:  

Tom didn’t go the usual publishing route. A publisher, Bob O’Brien, instead showed up at his front door looking for the previous owner of the home Tom now occupies, wishing only to share his first published book with that person because they had shown an interest in writing a book. He realized that Tom is not the person he had expected to meet. At the time, Tom had ten completed manuscripts. The signs were too strong to ignore and his first novel, Road Rage, saw the light of day three months later, publishing it via O’Brien’s Prose Press. A friendship blossomed from that chance encounter. Dark Thirty followed five months later. Two new books, The Caregiver’s Son and Outside the Window Looking In, Tom’s memoir and the follow up novel to Road Rage, have now made their way into the publishing world.

Tom says he is probably his own worst enemy, not sticking to a particular genre. "I write what I enjoy writing," he explained.

 He has completed a variety of other novels, all waiting their turns: a trilogy devoted to Bigfoot, a haunted house mystery, The Perfect Spook House, a golfing mystery, No Mulligan, an end of the world as we know it epic adventure, The Lord’s Last Acres, the thriller, Outside the Clique, a gnome adventure, The Tenth Elemental, a sea monster thriller, Last Stand on the Grand Strand, a love story in the works, The Longest Hello, a series of short stories titled Buttermilk and Cornbread with Spring Onions (Good Ole Southern Nostalgic Nonsense), another series of short stories, Bully on Board (stories about bullying) and the sequel to Dark Thirty with Mack picking up where he left off. Tithe and Offerings with be the third in the series following North of the Border and Road Rage. Many more are in various stages of completion.

"My brain is forever spinning tales, awake or asleep and anywhere in between," says T. Allen Winn. And his readers are delighted.

Watch for more news about books, authors and events!

Mary Anne Benedetto
Author and Certified Lifewriting Instructor

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Introducing Temp Like Me by Gary Lucas

Welcome to A Book Feast For You!

We will be featuring a variety of books for you to devour and authors with whom you can become acquainted. We hope you will visit often!
                                                   Mary Anne

Temp Like Me
Are sinister activities occurring in the temporary employment industry? At companies where temps are utilized, do full-time employees treat the temps like second class citizens? Can a senseless murder be solved?

Following a homicide in Willam Johnson’s own family, he is determined to use his investigative and acting skills to find the killer. He has a lead and goes undercover in the world of Day Labor to find the murderer and see that justice is served. This story takes profit-sharing to an entirely new level. During this journey, he also discovers something unexpected--a new respect for people who are down on their luck, treated disrespectfully, and live daily with extreme prejudice against them.

Written in first person, in Temp Like Me we always know what Willam is thinking, viewing and digesting. We know his every thought about his lovely partner in life, wife  Kathy. This is an intriguing read that digs far more deeply than simply solving a murder mystery. It introduces us to a man whose southern roots have formed a typical habitual bias and how his undercover temp experience enables him to view, on multiple levels, life from a very different perception.

In my own southern lineage, I recall hearing relatives make racist comments that were unnecessary and horrifying as I consider their words today. Author, Gary Lucas, reminds us that it’s always enlightening to, even figuratively, walk in someone else’s shoes for awhile.

Book Description:

A murder in the family makes it personal. What slows down the chase is being caught between a small change robbery and a shot from a small caliber handgun that ends with debilitating consequences for Willam. Against everyone’s best advice, he is up and about too soon, but not soon enough for Willam, as the man he now knows is the killer stays just out of reach.

Enter the Temp business, where the killer has a past, sidekicking with someone who has a talent for making temps work for more than daily pay. Under the cover of a day laborer, Willam’s plan is to work and wait. But someone else has a creative plan, too. And yet another person thinks he’s the one with a plan. Now there are too many people who want to temp in Willam’s P. I. shoes, and he’s had enough. After all, there can only be one Temp Like Me. Or maybe…

Getting to know Temp Like Me:

In the words of Gary Lucas, the background of this book is:

“One of my clients, for whom I did sales training for their staff in 18 markets in the southeast, was a temp agency who recruited and placed day laborers and some skilled and semi-skilled workers into day, short term, long term or permanent positions. I'd had many years experience in the staffing industry and had seen everything from fights to car theft in and around the waiting rooms (halls) to the same and more from workers at jobsites.”

Gary’s answer to my question that asks about the uniqueness of this book:

“The title ties in the backgrounds of my two protagonists, both from the south, each having grown up learning different points of view about integration, racial conflicts and common to one, repulsive to the other, racial epithets. Willam (no second i), the PI from Asheville, NC has to go undercover to search for clues about thefts, killings and bribes perpetrated on temp workers, client company employees, and others from someone on the "inside" of the Day Labor business. His views are less than contemporary regarding race. His wife however, who, unknowingly of course, always says the title of each novel somewhere in the story, explains the realities she'd grown up to know and respect. She offers her insights and refers to passages in a book titled "Black Like Me" by John Howard Griffin. In it, he exposes what it is like to be black in the Deep South.

So, it is, as with all my novels in this series, a who done it, catch the so-and-so story while enjoying the banter, thoughts, actions and in general the special relationship between egos, characteristics, perceptions, intuitiveness and personalities of Willam and Kathy.”

About the Author:

Gary Lucas has been writing in the advertising business for 30 years. He was born at the water’s edge in Miami, Florida and has lived both there and in the mountains of North Carolina his whole life. Professionally, he has traveled extensively along the eastern seaboard and has included cities and towns he particularly liked as important locales for his stories.

His favorite fiction writer is John D. MacDonald who wrote the Travis McGee series. Taken from years of enjoyment with his writing style, Lucas does not go overboard with forensics or detailed police procedures in his writing. Instead, he writes in a fast-moving and easy to read and follow way, developing compelling characters that readers can get to love or hate.

He began writing short stories and poetry in the 90’s and in 2000 published his first novel, Rotten at the Core. He has since written and published Abracadaver and Mayhem & Main. This series features a contemporary private investigator and an intuitive, almost psychic wife who, many reviewers have said, is the real central character.

Learn more about Gary and his books at

Come on back and see us again soon!

Mary Anne Benedetto
Author, Speaker, Certified Lifewriting Instructor
Founder of Beach Author Network