Life Long

Life Long by Ronald L. Ruiz is a fascinating book  about a man with schizophrenia who is doing his best to survive in a world that does not understand him. We first see Ray in court  for traffic citations but the judge decides to go easy on him. Ray then meets a cop that tells him they are watching his ex-con cousin Billy who Ray has been hiding money for. Ray starts to panic thinking the police are watching him too and decides the best thing he can do is go on the run. He’s been hiding Billy’s money in a church where he has been working as a caretaker. He grabs the cash and catches a bus going from California to Laredo Texas.

The journey by bus is a hard one, he’s on the run from the cops, Billy and the voices in his head. The problem is that what Ray is running from may not be real. After having a breakdown and spending time in a psychiatric hospital he now has a prescription for Zyprexa to keep the voices away. He only has so many pills with him and getting a refill will be a problem. He travels from Central California to Los Angeles to Phoenix to Dallas and finally to Laredo. Along the way he meets several people, some are friendly and some have their own agendas and are just trying to get his money. Ray’s worst enemy is himself because he doesn’t know who he can trust.

You really feel for Ray, he constantly argues with himself over the right thing to do but he can never stop thinking and sees conspiracies everywhere. The one person he does trust is his reverend but when he passes away Ray doesn’t know where to turn. Ray also spends time with a foster family but as his condition worsens the situation in the home becomes dangerous. My favorite part of this book was when Ray meets a girl who has the same condition he has and he tries to help her even though he needs help himself. Ray is a good person but he is unable to deal with reality without the right medication.

Not only is this a character study in what the life of a schizophrenic is like, it also looks at other problems. It talks about the dangers of traveling long distances as a poor person or as an immigrant and what they have to put up with. They don’t have the money for other transportation and have to take buses and put up with substandard conditions. There is one scene in the book where the bus riders are dealing with a broken bathroom door along with the strong odor within and the driver does nothing about it.

Life Long is a well written masterpiece and a good look at what people with paranoid schizophrenia go through.  This book is real life for some people and its both heartbreaking and hopeful. Heartbreaking because of the injustice Ray puts up with and the people who are just trying to swindle him. It’s hopeful because we also see people who care and try to help him even though they don’t know him. There are all kinds of people in this world and Life Long shows us the good, bad and the misunderstood.


Guest blog post: Ronald L. Ruiz

My Daughter Phe


Ronald L. Ruiz

My daughter Phe suffers from paranoia schizophrenia. Until she was 14, she was a good student and an outstanding athlete. As a freshman in high school she began staring off into space in the classroom and on the softball diamond standing on second base and staring out at the outfield. I hired a tutor for every one of her classes to get her through the school year and she quit the softball team.

Her behavior became more bizzare and knowing nothing about mental illness I was in complete denial. Finally, I called my sister, who was a clinical psychologist, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and it was decided that Phe should move to Santa Fe and live with my sister and become a patient of one of her associates. For the first year in Santa Fe, per telephone conversations with Phe and my sister, things seemed to be working for Phe´s benefit. Not long after that, Phe refused to talk to me on the telephone and my sister said only that Phe had decided to start out a complete new life for herself, which meant blotting out her past life. My sister thought it was best for the time being.

Two years passed without any direct contact with Phe and then my sister died. Phe returned to live with me in California. That was no life. I would leave for work in the morning and Phe would be staring at a wall. When I returned from work late in the afternoon, she would still be staring at the wall. All she would say was that she wanted to return to Santa Fe and her therapist, Michael. I finally relented and set her up in an apartment in Santa Fe. Michael would not talk to me about Phe’s condition without a written consent from Phe, which she hadn’t given him. Still concerned with Phe’s condition, I flew to Santa Fe three times in eight weeks. On my last visit, Phe had a complete physical breakdown in a restaurant. She was hospitalized for 10 days. On her return to California, a psychiatrist told me she was suffering from paranoia schizophrenia which was a lifelong illness.

The medically prescribed drugs worked wonders with Phe. She lived with me for six years and underwent incredible, positive changes. She attended the San Francisco Art Institute where she studied painting and then became a successful artist with shows and awards. And then came another break. Medicaid was paying for Phe’s psychotropic drugs and in 2009 California decided that the Zyprexa her psychiatrist was prescribing was too expensive and that Phe needed to take a less expensive drug. Her psychiatrist mistakenly prescribed 2 mgs of Respirol when Phe needed 4mgs. Then came a complete downward spiral.

For three years she led a terrifying chaotic life in which all of her family members were in a conspiracy to kill her. Phe´s mother was finally able to get her into the psychiatric ward at Stanford Hospital where she was for 45 days, then she was placed in a locked facility for six months and sent on to a half-way house. Slowly but surely she has put her life together. It’s a tough life but one that I admire completely. She is painting again after years of refusing to paint.

The cover of my novel Long Life is a scan of one of Phe´s paintings. I have dedicated the novel to her. All of the facts in my novel Long Life are completely fictitious. The symptoms of Raymond´s illness come of course come from my experience with Phe´s illness.

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After reading Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment at the age of 17, Ron Ruiz says he knew he wanted to be a writer. But, he adds, he knew nothing about the craft. His first novel, Happy Birthday Jesús, was published 36 years later to good reviews.

After college, Ruiz went to law school “for all the wrong reasons.” After ten years of practicing criminal defense law, Ruiz returned to writing. He quickly turned to writing about what he saw working in the criminal justice system, and began working on his critically acclaimed first novel, Happy Birthday Jesús (Arte Público Press, 1994). He says he carried that book around with him for over ten years and was on the verge of giving up when it was finally accepted for publication. His second novel, Giuseppe Rocco (Arte Público Press, 1998), is the recipient of a national literary prize.

Ruiz practiced criminal law for over 30 years in California. One of only six Mexican-American lawyers in Northern California during his early years, he saw a transformation in the criminal justice system that would make anyone wonder whether this was “progress.” A graduate of the University of San Francisco Law School, criminal defense attorney, and former District Attorney of Santa Cruz County, Ruiz retired from criminal law and continues to write every day.


A Year in the Company of Freaks

In 1972 the hippie movement was still going on, the Vietnam war was starting to wind down and there was lots of change and discrimination. In the small town of Trinity Springs, cultures collide as hippies start to migrate from San Francisco. Trinity Springs California is the type of town where everyone knows your name, people work hard, change happens slowly and hippies aren’t welcome.

One of the people who wants out of Trinity Springs is Italian-American Sid Jackson. He was a student at Berkeley but got busted for growing pot on his deceased parents’ farm. Now he has to spend a year on probation and can’t leave the Trinity Springs area. In order to make a living, Otis the town sheriff and friend to Sid’s parents finds boarders to live on Sid’s farm and pay rent. Now Sid has to live in a house of misfits, try not to break his probation and figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life.

A Year In The Company Of Freaks is a coming of age tale that can also be labeled as historical fiction. Sid and all of the boarders in the farmhouse are young and trying to figure out what they want from this world. They are also facing a certain amount of discrimination  from the town because they are very different from the people in town. Even within the house they face discrimination because they are all unique. One of the tenants named Mika is going to a church school and gets referred to as a Jesus freak and is treated like an outsider. We also have a  biker trying to win custody of his daughter and a Vietnam veteran who has trouble socializing and suffers from PTSD. There is also the problem that with the exception of Mika, all the people in the house do drugs and if Sid gets caught around it he will be breaking his probation and get thrown in prison.

This book is a character study in what people were like in the early seventies and the hardships they faced. Sid does dress like a hippie but doesn’t really fit into the movement. There is one good scene where he goes to a bar and the waitress gets upset with him because of how he looks, seeing him as a draft dodger. Also I felt for Mika in the way she gets ostracized for being religious. The only ones who are supportive of everyone is Otis and his wife Pearlie who are quick to give advice or provide warm meals.

Everyone in the house changes a lot over a year, especially Sid who is now forced to deal with the loss of his parents and his own doubts as to whether he can keep from getting high or not. I enjoyed watching the characters grow and the support they get from Otis and Pearlie. In particular I liked when they point out how true friendship is sacrifice and if it comes easy it’s not real. This is an idea you see proven among the people in the farm-house, nothing is easy for them.  I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would, it’s a long book but I was so into the characters that it seemed like a quick read. The story is about life itself and it’s something anyone can relate too.

Guest blog post: Teresa Neumann

Why A Year in the Company of Freaks is Not Your Daddy’s “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”

by Teresa Neumann

With today’s acceptance of marijuana as a legal substance, it’s hard to imagine that there was a time, not long ago, when simply the possession of pot was a crime. However, that was a reality in the 1970’s and the main focus of the storyline in A Year in the Company of Freaks.

Those who didn’t live through that time period don’t realize just how culturally divided America was then. Many assume most baby boomers were hippies and that society, in general, embraced them … or at least tolerated them. I lived in northern California for two years in the early 70’s and that was not entirely the case. While there were pockets of radical counter-culture communities – primarily around Berkeley and San Francisco – the greater part of northern California was still dominated by loggers, farmers and backwoods folk who viewed long-haired, pot-smoking hippies as unwelcome rebels, a threat to their long-established, traditional communities. Indeed, many bell-bottomed, patchouli scented Flower Children were threatened and bullied when they dared to tread 50-some miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Welcome to the sub-plot of Freaks: the beginnings of the great cultural shift and divide of the late 20th century. Unless you’re a hermit (or a zoned-out hippie living off the grid in some remote commune) you’re keenly aware that what started in the 1970’s as a cultural revolution against the establishment has, today, morphed into an all-out ideological war.

But Freaks isn’t your daddy’s “Merry Pranksters” or “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.” It’s a multi-dimensional glimpse into the reality of those who survived the times and lived to tell about it. Not only that, it explains the phenomenon of how so many hippies turned into yuppies.

Or not.

It depends on what “different strokes” you followed!

Teresa Neumann and her musician husband live in Oregon’s beautiful Willamette Valley with their three children. As well as being an author, reporter, and journalist, Teresa loves to fiddle on her violin and live “la dolce vita” in Italy whenever she can talk her family into it.

#Horror Anthology: Clockwork Wonderland #Review by @TBraun_Author #Books #AliceinWonderland

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Wonderland??? I’m all over this one! Let’s see what Theresa has to say about it.

Clockwork Wonderland contains stories from authors that see Wonderland as a place of horror where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book you’ll find tales of murderous clockworks, insane creations, serial killers, zombies, and a blood thirsty jabberclocky. Prepare to see Wonderland as a place where all your worst nightmares come true. You may never look at classic children’s literature the same way again.

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Clockwork Wonderland (Release Date: April 2017)

alice in wonderland

There’s a comforting familiarity in these stories, since most of us have at least a vague understanding of Alice and what it means to be stuck in Wonderland. Although it’s usually passed off as an imaginative realm for children, the circumstances and imagery here are the stuff of adult nightmares. Themes of losing our innocence, questioning our…

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Horror Bites: Alice’s Scars

One of the perks of being on staff at is I get to read a lot of good horror literature, recently I got asked to write the forward to the first story in horror bite series. The story is Alice’s Scars by Adam Belaby, here is my forward followed by some info on the story:

When it comes to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, there have been many interpretations as to what the book means. I like to think that it’s about a young girl looking at the crazy world of adults and trying to make sense out of it, but other people have different ideas.

For a book geared toward children, there are a lot of hidden meanings. One popular theme is the reference to mind altering drugs. This is debatable, but one thing we know for sure is that there is a caterpillar who smokes a hookah and gives advice. Does Alice eat his drugs when she’s told one side of the mushroom will make her taller, the other smaller? Or is the whole story a drug-induced vision?

Recently Press released Clockwork Wonderland, a Horror anthology that turns the world of Alice in Wonderland into a place of nightmares where anything can happen and time runs amok. Being a part of the staff, I was lucky enough to read the story submissions for what would become Clockwork Wonderland. Every author who submitted something did a great job of turning Alice’s Classic Children’s story into a tale of horror.

One of the most powerful stories I read for Clockwork Wonderlandwhich stuck with me long after I read it—was the story you are about to enjoy. “Alice’s Scars” by Adam L. Bealby had a much darker and realistic feel than the other stories accepted for the Clockwork Wonderland anthology. The reason it wasn’t included was because it was so intimate and different, we felt it needed its own space to be its own voice. While the stories in Clockwork Wonderland are Horror and Dark Fantasy, “Alice’s Scars” took the idea of Alice to a very different place. For me, it was a hard story to read because I’ve known people who were very similar to the characters in this story and it made the story that much scarier. Adam L. Bealby has written a mini masterpiece that explores mental illness, drug addiction, and real life horror. So prepare yourself for an Alice in Wonderland story that will truly give you chills.
David Watson,
Editor and Reviewer launches our Horror Bites series with an
Alice-inspired story by Adam L. Bealby.

When he met Alice, he wasn’t prepared to go down the rabbit hole. His love for her pushes him into the uncomfortable realization she might be mad. He wants to keep her safe, but what if that’s not what Alice wants?

“Adam Bealby has written a mini masterpiece that explores mental illness, drug addiction, and real life horror.”

~David Watson, The All-Night Library

Horror Bites: Alice’s Scars


Just 99 cents at




A look inside…

Alice’s Scars



When I first met her she was Katie, soon to be Alice. It was her first day at Uni, my second, and her scars intrigued me. They lined her cheeks like tribal markings and the way she caked her face in foundation, you could tell they were forever on her mind. It helped, of course, that she was a beautiful Goth girl. I wanted to save her, share her pain, kiss her, and fuck her, too. I asked her what she kept in the drawstring purse around her neck.

“Money,” she said dismissively, turning away to talk to someone else at the bar.

She disappeared soon after. I only found out later how drunk she got, how she spent the rest of the night over a toilet bowl with Jackie holding her hair clear of her mouth. Her first and last run-in with alcohol. Alice had too much else going on in her life to get any more screwed up.

I dogged her all through freshers’ week. Instead of dorms, she’d been accommodated in a little house just off campus. A new friend I met lived there too, so it was an easy thing to fall in with her motley crew, drawn together by circumstance as we were. I became a regular in their kitchen, smoking weed and trying too hard—as we all did—to be quirky and cool.

We struck up conversation over a jar of pesto. I didn’t know what it was and she couldn’t believe it. I strung it out, made it appear I was more ignorant than I actually was, and I got her laughing. When I said her pesto looked like rabbit food she blushed, right through all that paint and powder.

“You don’t know the first thing about rabbits,” she said, and she showed me what was in her drawstring purse. It was a tiny white rabbit’s foot. It freaked me out and yet I felt even more attracted to her. It was my in, a secret shared. Looking at the severed foot I felt myself getting hard and I had to sit down for fear she’d notice.

She ran away that evening. We were all stoned and a bit drunk, talking about our parents, being glib, critical, or overly generous. She burst into tears and ran out of the kitchen and into the night, not even bothering to put her shoes on. We made an extravagant show of hunting for her, shouting her name up and down the street. Pete the Poet, as we later christened him, came out to help from next door. The way John shouted Katie’s name in his Irish accent, Pete thought we’d lost a cat. We had a good laugh about that.

But it wasn’t funny when we found Katie. She was hunkered down by the bushes on a bit of common area at the end of the row.

“Katie? What are you looking for?” I asked as we gathered round in a concerned hub.

“He was here,” she muttered. She’d been pawing at the dirt. Her fingers were black. “I saw him, but he got away from me.”

“Who was here, Katie?”

She looked up. The glare from a passing car lent her eyes a lustrous sheen.

“Alice. Call me Alice from now on, okay? Do you know what time it is? The days all seem to blur into one.”


Adam L. Bealby writes fantasy, horror and weird fiction for both adults and children. His short stories and comic work have been published in numerous anthologies, including Spooked (Bridge House Publishing), Pagan (Zimbell House Publishing), Darkness Abound (Migla Press), Once Upon a Scream (, Sirens (World Weaver Press), World Unknown Review Vol. 2, rEvolution (MiFiWriters) and Murky Depths magazine. He lives in Worcestershire, UK with his wife and three children, and a harried imagination. Catch up with his latest ravings at @adamskilad.

Once Upon a Scream, featuring “The Other Daughter” by Adam L. Bealby

Once Upon a Scream…there was a tradition of telling tales with elements of the fantastic along with the frightful. Adults and children alike took heed not to go into the deep, dark woods, treat a stranger poorly, or make a deal with someone-or something-without regard for the consequences. Be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it. From wish-granting trolls, to plague curses, and evil enchantresses, these tales will have you hiding under the covers in hopes they don’t find you. So lock your doors, shutter your windows, and get ready to SCREAM.

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Guest Blog Post: Colleen M. Story

Book Tour Blog: The All Night Library

Colleen M. Story | Overwhelmed Writer Rescue

  The Truth About What’s Happening to Your Time

One of the most common complaints I hear from writers and other creative artists is that they wish they had more time.

“I don’t have enough time to write,” they’ll say, or to paint, or compose, or start a new business.

It’s true that we have more things vying for our attention today than we have in the past. We’re all victims, to some extent, of our “always-on” culture. It’s easy to get burned out when we travel with technology all the time, work at all hours, and even take our smartphones to bed.

But outside factors like technology and information overload are only part of the problem. There are more destructive elements I like to call “time thieves” that literally steal your time away, often without you realizing it. Unfortunately, you can never get that time back.

I talk about the seven most common thieves in my new book, Overwhelmed Writer Rescue, but today I’d like to share with David’s readers three of the most sinister when it comes to robbing you of your creative time: television, social media, and interruptions.

Time Thief #1: Television

An astonishing eighty percent of American adults watch three-and-a- half hours of TV per day—which takes up about half of their leisure time, according to a 2015 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

A 2014 Nielsen media ratings report put the number even higher, stating the average American watches five hours per day. That’s not just a huge time thief; it’s also horrible for your health. Recent research shows that the more television people watch, the more likely they are to die prematurely.

Examine what you’re watching and how much time it’s taking. There’s nothing wrong with sitting down to relax now and then, but if you want to be more productive, find the “off” button and use it more often.

Better yet, schedule your viewing time around your favorite shows, and then turn the TV off when they’re over. Don’t fall for those teasers that try to lure you into watching the next one.

Time Thief #2: Social Media

Social media networking now accounts for nearly thirty percent of the time Americans spend on the Internet—an average of 1.72 hours a day, according to a 2015 report from the Global Web Index. That doesn’t include blogging, reading blogs, or online research, just social media interaction.

It may be hard to imagine that so much of your day is spent on social media, but take a second look. A report from Informate Mobile Intelligence revealed that people check Facebook, Twitter, and other accounts an average of seventeen times a day—once every waking hour. And the highest usage wasn’t in the “kids” group —it was in the 25-54 age bracket!

Facebook reports that users spend an average of fifty minutes a day (nearly an hour) on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger platforms. That may not seem like much until you remember that you have twenty-four hours a day, and about eight are spent sleeping and another eight working. That leaves just eight hours, and the average Facebook user shoots one of them on the social media site.

To keep social media from gobbling up your time, set limits on when you allow yourself to check it. Dedicate thirty minutes a day, for example, or every other day, or on certain days of the week. Be vigilant about stopping on time, so you don’t fall victim to the “just one more thing” trick the social media thief uses to keep you from breaking away.

You can also check social media as a “reward” during the day, as long as you keep it to no more than ten minutes. This so-called “grazing” used as a reward between completed projects actually increased productivity in the workplace by about nine percent, according to one study.

Think of checking social media as the modern-day “smoke break.” Just don’t let it take over your day.

Time Thief #3: Interruptions

You’re working away on your project, and someone knocks on the door. You look up, address what that person wants, and then go back to your project. Don’t be surprised if you stare at the screen for a while before being able to get going again.

Interruptions are costly. They increase errors, cause you to take longer to finish a task, and boost stress. A key 2014 study from George Mason University found that people who were interrupted while writing produced poorer quality essays than those who worked undisturbed.

Other research has found that it can take an average of twenty-three minutes to recover lost concentration.

To minimize interruptions:

  • Communicate clearly. To work or write uninterrupted, make it clear to others that you don’t want to be disturbed. Close your door. Don’t answer the phone or check emails. Hang a “do not disturb” sign. Whatever it takes.
  • Don’t answer the phone or the door. When unexpected visitors come calling, avoid any interaction at all, or at the very least, apologize and reschedule the visit.
  • Turn off your cell phone, or at least silence it.
  • Isolate yourself—go somewhere you won’t be disturbed.

 When you sit down and start writing out exactly how much time you’re spending in each of these activities, and then add up that time over the period of a week, month, and year, you can quickly see how detrimental they can be to your creative dreams.

The good news is that you can take control of the situation. By simply identifying your time thieves and creating a new security system that keeps them from robbing you of those precious minutes you so desperately need, you can increase your productivity and get more creative time into your days.

I’ve got a chart in the book that helps you do just that, but for now, you can simply keep a daily diary and mark down each time you start doing these activities, and when you stop. Becoming more aware of the time you’re spending on daily time thieves may be enough to motivate you to make some positive changes that support your creative dreams.

To learn about the other four destructive time thieves— as well as discover your unique “time personality” and personal motivation style—order your copy of Overwhelmed Writer Rescue today! Available at Amazon and all other print and eBook retailers. Enjoy your FREE chapter here!

Colleen M. Story has worked in the creative writing industry for over twenty years. Her novels include “Loreena’s Gift,” an Idaho Author Awards first place winner, New Apple Solo Medalist winner, Foreword Reviews’ INDIES Book of the Year Awards winner, Reader Views award finalist, and Best Book Awards finalist; and “Rise of the Sidenah,” a North American Book Awards winner and New Apple Book Awards Official Selection.

As a health writer, Colleen has authored thousands of articles for publications like Healthline and Women’s Health; worked with high-profile clients like Gerber Baby Products and Kellogg’s; and ghostwritten books on back pain, nutrition, and cancer recovery. She finds most rewarding her work as a motivational speaker and workshop leader, where she helps writers remove mental and emotional blocks and tap into their unique creative powers.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness (, a motivational site helping writers and other creative artists maintain their physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being throughout their careers. Sign up for your free weekly email containing tips for living your best creative life at http://www.writingandwellness/ newsletter.

To find more information on Colleen and her work, please see her website (, or follow her on Twitter (@ colleen_m_story). She loves to hear from readers-feel free to use the “contact” form on either her website or Writing and Wellness to get in touch with her.