Interview with Hakim LaRocca

Hello! Today we have an author interview with Hakim LaRocca, author of . Let’s dive right in!

IMG-0006J: Welcome, Hakim! Please tell us a little something about your book.

H: The book I am promoting I called Unplugged: DIY Retreat.  It is a hands-on book showing how couples can massage each other.  I have been doing massage for many years and I wanted to capture some simple and effective techniques for other people to enjoy their partner’s touch.  I show techniques using oil and also some without oil similar to a Thai yoga massage.  I’ve also included some fun recipes people can experiment with when they decide to cook a meal together.  So the whole concept is to have a delightful mini-retreat experience in the comfort of your home with your person.

J: That sounds awesome! What inspired you to write it?

H: I have always dabbled in writing from when I was in high school but that took more the shape of passing notes in the hallways (and yes, this is way before texting was invented lol).  However, my inspiration for writing this book came from a client who after having a massage with me suggested I write down my techniques and share it with people.  So that was the beginning of the writing adventure…

Unplugged coverJ: I remember those pre-texting days, too!  What was your favorite part of writing?

H: My favorite part was collaborating with the amazing people that helped me put it all together.  My sister Gabriella La Rocca and Urania Bellos did the editing to make me sound like I knew what I was talking about, Joanne Corrigal made the magical photos, Cara Cox put the book together and the talented Kaya Bryce was my model.

J: That does sound like fun. What was your least favorite?

H: The waiting for the final product, it felt like I was a kid outside the toystore waiting for it to open so I could have a look at the newest toy.

J: I understand that! What do you have planned next?

H: I just finished a manuscript which is now in the editing process.  This particular book deals more with people’s own personal life journeys, some of which are inspiring and some will bring tears to your eyes.

IMG-0124 (1)J: That sounds awesome. Can you tell us one interesting thing about yourself or your book.

H: I also do horse massage.  I learned it while living in CapeTown, South Africa and it is such a tremendous experience to be so close to these magnificent creatures.

J: Okay, and speaking of interesting things, now it’s time for the Flash Fun Round!

J: Favorite drink? 

H: coffee & Belgium beer

J: Last vacation? 

H: I honestly feel like my life is one big vacation since I have been traveling and living in different countries for many years.  But I guess the standard answer would be last year when I went to Amsterdam to visit some friends.

J: Last text you sent?

H: To my girlfriend wishing her a kick-ass day!

J: Favorite cookie?

H: chocolate chip with walnuts

J: One weird habit?

H: Drinking a beer while taking a shower.

J: Paper or plastic?

H: Sorry my eco-friendly friends but I like both paper and plastic.

IMG_3034J: You can find more of Hakim’s flash fun answers in March’s newsletter! In the meantime, thanks so much for coming to hang out with us today! You can find more of Hakim on Amazon, Facebook, and Instagram!

And of course, you can find me on Facebook (Hakim La Rocca) and Instagram (@hakimlarocca)

A Different Time – FREE short story

Just in time for Valentine’s Day! Now you don’t need to be a newsletter subscriber to read Oren’s and Etsuko’s short story for FREE!


It’s been two years since Lilith was defeated. Oren and Etsuko have settled down to raise the twins. Though Oren’s old fashioned sensibilities say it’s not official until they’re married, he’s painfully aware that the world – and women – have changed. Can he figure out how to pop the question in this “different time”, or will it be a disaster?

Get your FREE copy today!*

Smashwords | Kobo | Apple iBooks | Barnes & Noble

*Sadly not available on Amazon because they won’t let me set the price to free. 😦

Phoenix People by Jan Pauw

Today’s excerpt is from the novel Phoenix People by Jan Pauw


Mark was a self-made billionaire but now is in prison after losing his wealth, reputation, marriage and freedom. Katy, a graduate student in forensic psychology, wants to do a PhD dissertation on his case.

At first Mark talks only about his business. Gradually he opens up about his family, friends and associates, trying to persuade Katy that he was a kind and caring husband, father, friend and mentor who did nothing wrong.

Katy is skeptical. She assumes he is manipulative and unreliable.

Mark thinks she is a naïve, affluent dilettante, but something seems odd about her. Slowly she reveals a terrible childhood and troubled adolescence. He becomes obsessed with her, but this frightens her and drives them further apart. They overcome distrust and misunderstandings as they learn about each other and themselves.

Their story is told mostly through letters they exchanged over several years and Katy’s notes and transcripts of meetings in prison. Katy also provides a brief introduction and a final chapter explaining how they eventually found mutual respect, admiration and affection.

Set up:

Mark keeps trying to persuade Katy that he is a kind and caring person who handled many business and family problems with great compassion. In this excerpt, he describes a time when he and his wife Cindy found their 17 year-old daughter hosting a skinny dipping and pot party at their lakefront mansion. (“Buddy” refers to one of Mark’s political proteges, a Congressman who later has an affair with Cindy.)


In late August 1991, shortly before Julie left for college, Cindy and I came home one evening and found five or six cars in the driveway. Julie and her friends were out on the dock and in the lake. There were beer bottles all over, piles of clothes here and there, kids skinny dipping. Julie saw me, giggled, handed me a cookie and said, “Have one.” Several kids laughed.

“What’s in ‘em?” asked Cindy.

“They’re A-B-T-Rs,” one of the kids said, giggling again.

“A-B-T-Rs?” I asked.

“Alice B. Toklas recipe,” said Julie.

“Pot,” said Cindy.

“Shit,” I said. Several kids snuffed out what they were smoking.

“Dad, I’m not a smoker so I can’t suck it in far enough or hold it in long enough to do any good, so I use the edibles, most of us do. Try one.”

“No, Julie, you know how I feel about that stuff.” I handed the cookie back and started to leave. Then I turned around and came back. “Listen, you guys, and that includes you girls too. I wish you hadn’t done this, but here we are, and now I’m worried about how you’re gonna get home safely. Most of you probably want to get your clothes back on and leave, but please don’t drive out of here drunk or high. Stay all night if you want, or at least stay long enough so be safe driving home. Or have the security guards drive you home.”

Cindy went in the house and I went to talk to the security guards. “There’s some kids out there that look pretty, ah, impaired.”

“We know, Boss. We didn’t know what we should do about it. What should we have done?”

“I don’t know. But try not to let them drive out of here if they seem drunk or high. Give them coffee or something. Drive them home if they’ll let you.”

I went in the house and got in bed. Cindy said, “She’s right you know. If you’re not a regular smoker and somebody gives you a joint, it’s hard to suck it in far enough and hold it in long enough to get any effect.”

“And you know this how?”

“By trying it, of course.”

“When you were a kid?”

“No, last month after Buddy’s fundraiser.” Another warning sign I missed.

“Was he smoking pot?”

“No. He said he promised you not to smoke it in the US until it was legal, and to tell you he’d kept that promise.”

“Oh, well, that part’s good.” I stared at the ceiling. “But this thing with Julie tonight, it’s so hard. I try to be a good father, and then this kind of shit comes along. What should I do now?”

“Go to sleep.”

“Cindy, this isn’t a joke. I really want to do the right thing, but what would that be?”

“I wasn’t joking. I know you try hard, but maybe too hard sometimes? Just relax. You’re usually so positive, so optimistic. Just be yourself. It’ll all be alright.” She rolled over and went to sleep. I stared at the ceiling for a long time, with a piece of song looping through my head:

“Try not to worry, try not to hang on to

“Problems that upset you, oh yes

“Everything’s all right, yes, everything’s fine,

“And we want you to sleep well tonight …”

Is it possible to try too hard to be good?

Get your copy today from:

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About the author:

 I graduated from Shoreline High School in 1962, the University of Washington (B.A. English, 1966) and the Stanford Law School (J.D. 1969). At Stanford I was President of the Legal Aid Society and became interested in poverty law and other issues of the poor, but also interested in real estate, business and finance. After law school I went to work for Weyerhaeuser Company, expecting to work in those fields but quickly drifting into environmental and natural resources law. I retired in 2006.This is the first fiction I have written.

Weeping Hemlock

New for patrons of any level. Get the gothic horror story Weeping Hemlock free. You can also still scroll through older posts and grab Jorick’s origin story if you haven’t gotten it yet.

Free stories aren’t the only thing. $1 patrons get listed in the dedications of everything I publish, as well as getting the Amaranthine Unlocked posts early (and they get the short stories meant for publication sent to them first, though I won’t lie, I haven’t written many of those lately).

The 5$ tier gets that plus everything I write, as I write it, false starts, backtracks, and all, ha ha! It’s a lot of fun, so come say hi!

Hope to see you there! And if you have a request for the Unlocked posts, let me know. Otherwise we’ll keep on with the gender swap Shades of Gray.

The Nightmare Collective

With the holidays and everything going on I’m a little behind BUT it’s not to late to tell you about The Nightmare Collective, an anthology brought to you by IABEThe Nightmare Collective, an anthology brought to you by IABE. Featuring lots of great short stories, including The Studio by yours truly.

He should never have rented the old office space out, but he needed the money. One young artist is about to pay the price for the last occupant’s sins. Join in her a a dark spiral into unknown horror in The Studio.

Also includes:

  • The Monsters Wear Pretty faces by Lu Whitley
  • Twisted Besties by Brian K. Morris
  • Quake by Cassandra Albee
  • I dare You by Douglas Daech
  • Someone Else by Joshua Howell
  • Before I Sleep by Jennifer Thompson
  • The Marble by Rick Bradley

You can grab this scary collection for just $.99 or $12.00 for paperback. Get your copy today – and don’t read it with the lights out!

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Join me today in the Prophecy of Magic Party Room for a takeover! I’ll be hanging out off and on from noon until 10pm central time, with games and giveaways. So, be sure to stop in, say hi, and have some fun!

Hope to see you there!

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In Which I am Interviewed

The awesome Erin Casey was kind enough to interview me for her blog today! She asked some great questions, like:

8. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Oh yeah, there are always inside jokes, but they tend to die in editing. For instance in Ashes of Deceit:

[they] stopped in front of a battered door that was labeled “Supplies.”

She frowned. “What’s in there?”

Originally they just stopped in front of an unmarked door, she asked, and Jorick replied, “Supplies.” – a nod to the movie UHF (because, of course, there’s a surprise hidden inside the closet) but it got fixed in editing when some of the betas didn’t think it fit.

If you’re not familiar with her work, you should be. Hop on over, check out the interview, then stay to see what she has to offer!

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I mentioned Halloweenapalooza briefly in my last post and am now excited to say I will be attending with my own table. Join us October 11th and 12th in Ottumwa, Iowa, at the Hotel Ottumwa, for a horror film festival complete with celebrity guests and, of course, vendor tables. NeoLeaf Press will also be there with their new Halloween anthology, and I will have my vampire selfie station set up.


Hope to see someone I know there!

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Weeping Hemlock!

PictureGreetings Amaranthites! Last month I entered NeoLeaf Publshing’s horror anthology contest with a gothic horror short called Weeping Hemlock, and I’m proud to say not only will the story be included in the Chills Down Your Spine Too anthology, but it won first place.

What’s it about?

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman leaves her home for her new husband’s estate. Peopled by strange servants and her husband’s even stranger brother, the dim halls of the mansion soon turn her bright dreams into dark nightmares of a ghostly woman. Does her nightly visitor mean her harm, or does she bring a warning to save herself before she suffers the same fate?

Of course, I’m not the only writer in the anthology. There will also be stories by:

Ben Clayton
Jason White
Ian Conner
Justin Hunt
Luke M. Bartojay
D. Fischer
Erin Casey

How can you get your hands on this amazing anthology? Publication date is October, 2019, with the book’s debut at Halloweenapalooza, in Ottumwa, Iowa  After that, you’ll be able to purchase it from your favorite retailers.

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IABE Interview!

Jenn Thompson of the award winning IABE was awesome enough to interview me live on Facebook! If you missed it, you can still watch the video.

Jenn and I always have a lot of fun, so check it out!

And if you haven’t joined the Shades of Gray anniversary party yet, its not too late to come play with us!

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  • Tales of the Executioners

    Short stories from the world of Amaranthine; a universe of blood and darkness where vampires don't sparkle and night is eternal. Each is about a member of the Executioners squad; the special vampire "police" force. Members both past and present share stories of assignments, origins, and more.

    Dark, light, love, laughter, never know what you'll find in the shadows.

    Get your copy today!

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  • Joleene Naylor

    Joleene Naylor

    An independent author, freelance artist, and photographer for fun who loves anime, music, and writing. Check out my vampire series Amaranthine at or drop me a line at

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