Madison Heights blogger brings writers together at Rust City Book Con

Rachel Moulden for Digital First Media

Jackie Morgan established the Rust City Book Con, running Friday through Sunday, Aug. 4-6, at Detroit Marriott Troy, 200 W. Big Beaver Road, Troy. Courtesy of Jackie Morgan

Jackie Morgan, a Michigan book blogger at Literary Escapism, comes from a family of readers.

“I’ve read so many types of books over the years,” the Madison Heights resident says. “I initially started reading historical romances in my teenage years and now I read a lot of paranormal fantasy,” especially by authors Jeanine Frost, Chloe Neill, and Kim Harrison.

Morgan’s passion for books has manifested as an event readers will enjoy. She came up with the idea for Rust City Book Con after her experiences attending book conventions for several years. She has been blogging about books for more than 10 years and that, combined with attending conventions, enabled her to make connections with authors and publishers.

While volunteering at other conventions, many of Morgan’s friends suggested she should create one of her own. She decided to take their advice and Rust City was born to promote local and independent authors.

“When Borders closed it had a huge impact on readers and authors, especially the local ones,” Morgan says. “Borders was one of the big bookstores that constantly promoted indie local authors and when they closed it cut off a venue for authors to promote their works.”

In its second year, Rust City is still a “baby con.” Morgan’s goals are to bring more variety next year, especially sci-fi writers, particularly because the area has many sci-fi conventions. Her goal is no more than 300 attendees, allowing more one-on-one time with the authors.

“This year we have about 40 authors in attendance. A lot of the panels center around face-time with authors that you might not get to see at larger conventions,” she says.

Metro Detroit is a great area for conventions, Morgan says, because of its large population and with Canada so close, it’s convenient for Canadian authors, too.

Attendees of the 2017 convention have a lot to look forward to. Lunch and dinner buffets will make it easier for readers and writers to have access to food without leaving. The full schedule includes many activities.

“Every day there are writer’s workshops, author meet-and-greets, games such a bookish edition of the ‘Match Game,’ and even a charity raffle where attendees can win bookish prizes,” Morgan says.

Unlike other cons, she says the registration deadline is not cut off and those interested can still register. Saturday’s book sale and signing is also open to the public. In exchange, everyone is asked to bring a gently used book to help fill a new Little Free Library to be installed in the community after the event.

Attending authors are coming from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois. Some Michigan authors coming include C.K. Brooke, Rue Allyn, John David and Jenny Trout. All weekend there will be an indie bookstore where attendees can purchase the authors’ books.

Rust City Book Con takes place Friday through Sunday, Aug. 4-6, at Detroit Marriott Troy, 200 W. Big Beaver Road, Troy. Registration is $85 and includes all events and activities through the weekend. For more information, visit


Local Author Releases Newest Book in Bestselling Mystery Series

By Rachel Moulden for Digital First Media

Donald Levin pic 1.5 mb
Ferndale Author Donald Levin will hold a book launch event Saturday, June 10, at the Lawrence Street Gallery in Ferndale to celebrate the publication of his newest novel “The Forgotten Child.” Photo courtesy of Jeff Pearson

Ferndale author Donald Levin has always had a strong passion for the written word. Originally born in Massachusetts, the writer moved to Detroit as a small child and spent his days weaving together exciting fiction stories. In his thirties, he left Michigan to move to New York where he lived in various cities throughout the state.

There he worked as an adjunct college professor after obtaining his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo and also worked as a speech writer for the New York State Public Health Commissioner. When he retired from Marygrove College in Detroit, he was Professor of English and Dean of the Faculty. He currently stands as Emeritus Professor of English at the college. After retiring from teaching and writing professionally, he decided that he wanted to focus more on writing for himself and not others.

Writing professionally and academically over the years, Levin didn’t start to write novels until the 1970s. On top of novel writing, he’s also delved into poetry over the years. Some of his poetry works include: In Praise of Old Photographs (2005) and New Year’s Tangerine (2007).

When it comes to poetry and novel writing he says there are striking differences between the two art forms. Poetry has a more intense narrative and can be written in a short amount of time as compared to fiction novels which are more of a long-term project. When it comes down to choosing between the two ultimately, he enjoys writing novels the best. “I like novels (the most) because I can immerse myself in an imaginative world”, says Levin.

Levin has been encouraged by many authors that have inspired him over the years. As a former professor, he is well versed in the classics, but he loves the mystery genre. Some of the writers he enjoys include Henning Mankell, Ian Rankin, and Walter Mosley. “I learned a lot from them (authors) and reading their books have inspired me to write my own books”, says Levin.

Levin says that he is a very diligent writer due to his previous years of professional writing. “As a speech writer, I sometimes had to write eight twenty-minute speeches in a week. I just learned that I had to stay focused and get it done”, he said. Levin does the majority of his writing in the Royal Oak Public Library from 10am to usually 4 or 5pm only stopping to take occasional breaks. At the end of the day he writes a note to himself as a reminder of where to start the new day.

Levin is currently promoting his newest novel “The Forgotten Child”, which is the fourth book in the Martin Preuss mystery series. This series follows a man named Martin who works for a police department and has a disabled son who lives in a group home due to Martin having a full time job and being a widower. The son, Toby, is based on Levin’s grandson Jamie, who also had disabilities and passed away three years ago. Levin wanted to set his series apart from other books in the same genre, by showing the fierce love between a father and son.

“The Forgotten Child”, picks up from the previous novel, “Guilt in Hiding”, in which Martin, newly retired from the Ferndale Police Department, passes his days quietly with his beloved son Toby. When a friend asks him to look for a boy who disappeared forty years ago, the former investigator gradually becomes consumed with finding the forgotten child.

The Martin Preuss series came about from Levin’s interest in the mystery genre. “As a boy, I loved to watch Dragnet and was a consumer of detective/crime fiction”, says Levin. He wanted to tackle the issues of people in society being affected by the extremities of crime and what crime says about the culture/society.

Levin is having a book launch event to celebrate the publication “The Forgotten Child”. The event will be held June 10th at the Lawrence Street Gallery at 22620 Woodward, Suite A in Downtown Ferndale, MI 48220. For more information about upcoming events visit to learn more about his books and upcoming appearances at local events.

Review: “Escort” Entices Readers With a Futuristic Dystopian World

Rachel Moulden for The Pit


Escort #1 by Iggy Michniacki

Publisher: Project Nerd Publishing

Release Date: February 15, 2017

Synopsis: Audiences have been waiting for the follow up to Barrens, Project-Nerd Publishing’s first title to go to second print on two different covers, but the project came to a halt after Chapter One. With the creative team moving on to other projects, it left the door open for Esme Ford to return in a different capacity.

Set in the not too distant future, The Escort follows Esme Ford as she proves to be the best guide through the barrens as she transports goods and people between the few remaining fortified cities left in the world. Ford will open up a brand new mission with the debut issue of The Escort in January 2017.

The Escort is written by Esme Ford creator and Project-Nerd Publishing Founder, Iggy Michniacki, and will feature the pencils and inks of J.C. Grande (Johnny Monster, Necessary Evil) and colors from Esteban Salinas (Deviant Apple Studios). Erin Lei will return as Esme Ford for a cosplay cover variant of the first issue with Salinas also creating the series’ cover art. (description from Project Nerd Publishing)

Review: The story of Escort follows main protagonist, Esme Ford, a transporter of goods in a barren wasteland. Not too much is said about her character in the first issue, but based on her interactions with other people she is well-known and revered around the land. She’s sassy, resourceful and skilled in fighting, which makes her an interesting character. Her mysterious aura is key to drawing readers into the story.

As for the story’s setting, there are small glimpse of what the futuristic setting is like here and there, but there was not enough description for me. I would have enjoyed more of the world-building process and want to see more of the setting that Esme lives in.When looking at the artwork, I wished it had a smoother, more detailed look when it came to the characters and background settings. But I did love the variety of colors and textures used to give the characters definition and depth.

Overall, the first issue of Escort says enough to get readers attention, but raises a lot of questions about its main protagonist, secondary characters, and setting. I hope the next issues goes more into depth about the setting and Esme’s backstory.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Oakland County author merges sci-fi, horror in new novel

Rachel Moulden for Digital First Media

Troy author Brian W. Matthews’ new novel, “The Conveyance,” promises to put a chill up your spine. Courtesy Brian Matthews

Troy author Brian W. Matthews loves to craft entertaining stories that put his readers on edge. His tales of things that go bump in the night, as well as his penchant for exploring the unknown are fueled by his appreciation for the sci-fi and horror genres.

Matthews, who works as a financial planner by day and a writer by night, has enjoyed writing stories about anything and everything since he was a young child. As he grew up, he continued to express his love for the art by taking creative writing classes in college while attending the University of Michigan. However, his career took on a different path when he decided to pursue a graduate degree in psychology and spent more than a decade as a therapist. This would serve as inspiration for his latest novel “The Conveyance.”

In 2010, Matthews started taking writing seriously when a friend asked him to contribute a story for a science fiction anthology titled “Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero.”

“I enjoyed the experience so much that I decided to try writing a novel of my own,” Matthews says. In 2013, he went on to sell his first novel, “Forever Man” to JournalStone Publishing.

His published works include “Graveduggery” (Co-written with Jeff LaSala) and “Lament” which both appeared in the short stories collection “Foreshadows: The Ghosts of Zero” in 2012. In addition to “Forever Man” he has also published the novels “Revelation,” and his most recent sci-fi novel “The Conveyance” through JournalStone Publishing.

“The Conveyance” follows the tale of psychologist Dr. Brad Jordan, who happens upon the town of Emersville, where odd events are always occurring. While exploring Emersville, he sets off a series of catastrophes that threaten to expose a dangerous secret hidden within the town. Dr. Jordan follows a trail of madness, suicide, and murder that leads him to a sinister device known as the Conveyance.

Matthews got the inspiration to write this novel from his experiences practicing as a child therapist for 20 years, where he learned a lot about child-parent relationships.

“This novel is a blend of thriller, horror and fiction. I wanted to show real horror is not always about monsters, creepy dolls and zombies, but rather what people can do to other people,” Matthews says.

He was also inspired by all of the horror and sci-fi films and books he digested growing up.

“The scariest book I ever read was “The Exorcist” by William Peter Blatty, when I was about 13 years old. I had trouble sleeping for nights, and my mom was not too happy about that,” Matthews says.

Challenges can occur during the process of writing any book. Matthews says the hardest thing about writing any story is disciplining yourself to sit down and write every day.

“When writing the first draft, I have to ignore everything that I want to change at that moment and just solely focus on writing,” he says.

An avid reader himself, Matthews says that in order to make a good story — and especially in the sci-fi/horror genre ­— the story must be about the people.

“A lot of the authors today in this genre focus on the monsters in the story rather than the people,” he says. “Real stories are based on your characters and their relationships. You push them to the edge and see what they can do.”

When Matthews is not writing up a storm, he loves to read and travel. He’s been to Russia, Poland and Germany among other places, and wants to discover the world. He also enjoys spending time with family and occasionally golfing in his free time.

Matthews is working on his fourth novel. To learn more about his work, visit

Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code To Be Adapted Into a YA Novel For Fall 2016

Rachel Moulden for The Pit

The Random House US and Penguin Random House UK children’s divisions of Penguin Random House will be publishing a young adult adaptation of the popular novel The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown this upcoming fall.

Brown’s 2003 mystery-detective novel follows symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu after they are summoned to a murder case in the Louvre Museum in Paris. They soon become involved in a battle between the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei over the possibility of Jesus Christ having been married to Mary Magdalene. Because of its great success the novel was later adapted into a high grossing 2006 film that starred Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou in the lead roles.

The Young Adult adaptation is set to be released in the US in hardcover and e-book editions on September 13, 2016. The UK version will be released in paperback and e-book on September 8, 2016.

Dan Brown expressed his feelings about the new YA adaptation by stating:

“My parents were educators, and so it’s no surprise that I have a fascination with history and research,” says Brown. “In fact, if I weren’t an author, I’m sure I would be a teacher myself. It is my sincere hope that this adaptation of The Da Vinci Code sparks in young adults the same thrill of discovery that I feel while exploring hidden history and the mysteries of the world we live in.”

The Da Vinci Code has sold 82 million copies worldwide since its debut in the publishing world. The young adult adaptations will be abridged in length, feature new cover designs, and will introduce a new generation of younger readers to Dan Brown’s well-known characters and the adventures that takes place within the novel.

“It is incredibly exciting for us to bring The Da Vinci Code to our young adult market in the US, and to introduce young people to Dan Brown’s masterful storytelling, and his brilliant ability to bring history to life on the page,” says Barbara Marcus, President & Publisher of Random House Children’s Books (US).

Fans of Dan Brown’s literary works can also look forward to movie release of Inferno, in theaters nationwide on October 28, 2016 which is the sequel 2009 film Angels & Demons.

YA Authors To Embrace The Stories Of DC Comics Super Heroes In Upcoming Novels

Rachel Moulden for The Pit

Publisher Random House recently announced that YA authors will publish official young adult novels featuring some of the very iconic DC Comics superhero characters  starting in 2017. Wonder Woman will be written by Leigh Bardugo, Batman will be written by Marie Lu, Superman will be written by Matt de la Peña, and Catwoman will be written by Sarah J. Maas.

These four authors have a wide fan-base and popular novels that are internationally known and enjoyed by many readers.

Matt de la Peña won the Newbery Medal in 2016 for his book Last Stop on Market Street,  Leigh Bardugo wrote the New York Times Bestselling Grisha Trilogy, Marie Lu is best known for her dystopian Legend series, and Sarah J. Maas is the writer of  the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Throne of Glass series.

Another recent publication from Random House titled, Wonder Woman at Super Hero High, is also superhero themed. It’s the first book in the new middle-grade book series by Lisa Yee which introduces readers to female superheroes of the DC Comics universe during their high school years, where they come to discover their full potential and powers.

Mallory Loehr, Senior Vice President, Publisher of the Random House Books for Young Readers Group shared the excitement about the upcoming series stating that:

“Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, and Catwoman have been fan favorites for so long, and it is an incredible honor for us to now have this group of acclaimed young adult authors become part of the legacy—and we know there is a vast audience of teen and adult readers worldwide who will join in our excitement.”

The four YA themed novels will feature one DC Comics superhero icon and the story will grasp themes of good vs. evil, coming-of-age romance, and Super Heroes that are determined to achieve seemingly impossible dreams. The first book,Wonder Woman, will be released at the end of August 2017, followed by Batman, Superman, and Catwoman.