Welcome. I’m Bob Gatty with Mark M. Bello, social justice lawyer and author of riveting ripped-from-the-headline novels covering some of the major issues of our times.

Look up “justice” in the dictionary and you’ll find something like: “Just or fair behavior or treatment.”

In addition to hosting the Lean to the Left podcast, I co-host Mark’s “Justice Counts” podcast, where the conversation goes beyond the law to issues that are important – like equal access and fair treatment for everyone.

But today we’re going to talk about Mark’s latest books. He’s been busy over the last few months, has won some new awards, including the Mom's Choice Gold Award from an organization of mothers in recognition of his new children's book about bullying, Happy Jack Sad Jack.

During the episode Mark talks about this project as well as other new novels that he has in the works, including a new murder mystery and a "legal romance" novel.

Take a listen.

Show Notes

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Show Transcript

[00:00:53] Mark M. Bello: Hey Bob, how are you?

[00:00:54] Bob Gatty: I'm good. 

[00:00:55] Mark M. Bello: glad to hear that, man. Yeah we were just discussing off air about about the, golden years. Yeah, tell me. I'm beginning to wonder myself whether or not that's an actual a thing. 

[00:01:09] Bob Gatty: Yeah. My wife says that they're the rust years, and I agree with her oh, man. I'll tell you what, I woke up the other day. I could hardly stand up straight. My back hurts so bad.

[00:01:19] Oh, geez. So when we get, done here, I'm going out into my hot tub and 

[00:01:25] Mark M. Bello: that's a good idea. At least you have, at least you have one. Yep. . 

[00:01:29] Bob Gatty: Yeah. 

[00:01:30] Mark M. Bello: Anyway, the question you asked me was what's going on? Yeah, what's going on? The, answer is that I've got a new, I've got a new book coming out.

[00:01:38] Bob Gatty: That's nothing new. . Yeah, that's the number of books you've been cranking out, man. What are you up to now? Eight or something? 

[00:01:46] Mark M. Bello: I've been rather prolific . I think I'm up to I think I'm up to 11 now. Between the cookbook and the children's books. 

[00:01:54] Bob Gatty: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I forgot about the cookbook and the children's books.

[00:01:58] Mark M. Bello: There's eight Blake novels. Yeah. There's this new cozy mystery that I just wrote that we're gonna talk about today. Uhhuh . There's two children's books and there's the Jewish cookbook. 

[00:02:12] Bob Gatty: You received a bunch of awards for some of this stuff, right? Tell me about those awards.

[00:02:18] Mark M. Bello: I've been honored by several different organizations. I just received for my last book "You Have the Right to Remain Silent", I just received an independent press award and I received a reader's view silver medal, which is I guess second place. Wow. I don't know what they were thinking.

[00:02:40] Bob Gatty: Yeah. Why didn't you get the gold? 

[00:02:42] Mark M. Bello: That book has gotten multiple awards. That book by the way, inspired this new book, as and as we've discussed on previous shows, my first seven Zachary Blake novels had a kind of a political social justice slant to them.. The eighth book , "You Have the Right to Remain Silent," was even though it featured a Republican political radio show host and a Democratic congressman who gets murdered, and the woman who hosts the show, his wife, a Mary Madeline James Carville kind of thing.

[00:03:27] In "You Have the Right to Remain Silent," The congressman gets murdered. The radio commentator is accused of his murder, and it's a whodunit once, once you get beyond the politics it's, a Agatha Christi type whodunit. Okay? And I enjoyed writing it so much that I decided I would move away from Zachary Blake for a second.

[00:03:53] Go to Northern Michigan and write a book that features a former judge who decides to become an investigator so that she can prove her best friend innocent of a murder. 

[00:04:13] Bob Gatty: Where'd you get the idea for this book? 

[00:04:15] Mark M. Bello: Just out of my warp mind. I, Outta your warp mind. Yeah. I, wrote, The who done it in "You Have the Right to Remain Silent," and I enjoyed it, so I decided I'd write a second one. Okay. And it's an in, it was an interesting experience and a nice little book. I've, I enjoyed it. Okay. And she's a good, she's a good character. Okay. I, enjoyed writing her. Okay. 

[00:04:44] Bob Gatty: All right. Who'd your pattern her after? 

[00:04:49] Mark M. Bello: The, protagonist of of the book is a former judge, Rosalyn Maxwell. Yeah. She is retired from the circuit court bench in Michigan. She's written a book about prison. Okay. Over sentencing and people being falsely accused and put in prison incorrectly. And the effect that has on society and on the lives of these innocent people.

[00:05:23] She's about to embark on a book tour. And, coincidentally enough, her best friend, Tyler Guthrie, is the president of a fictional college in Harbor Springs, Michigan. Okay. And he invites her to lecture. It's the first stop on her book tour. He invites her to lecture about her new book.

[00:05:51] And while she's there, a popular law professor gets murdered on the campus. Now, coincidentally enough, Bob, I wrote the book and was about to finish it when the Idaho murders happened. Okay. I didn't have any clue that an actual campus murder would happen. And, my book is not in any way, shape or form a serial killer, multiple murder of students book.

[00:06:26] It's a book about, it's the murder of a law professor, but I couldn't, but I couldn't help but notice the irony of writing a book like this and then having the Iowa and having what happened in Iowa . 

[00:06:38] Bob Gatty: All right. This, that's really interesting though. You said in the, on the one hand that the book is not at all political, but on the other hand you have the judge who is writing a book that is political.

[00:06:53] And it's about political issues that you write about and really care about, right? 

[00:07:00] Mark M. Bello: That is true. 

[00:07:01] Bob Gatty: Unwittingly, perhaps you brought in these issues and found a way to write about 'em even in a whodunit novel. 

[00:07:11] Mark M. Bello: Even when I'm not writing about it. , even when you're not writing about it, you wrote about, I gue I guess you could co I guess you could certainly compare it to using a Democratic congressman and a Republican commentator radio host.

[00:07:32] Yeah. And you have the right to remain silent. So yeah I. I tend to err on the political, 

[00:07:39] Bob Gatty: you know what? I have every single one of your Zachary Blake novels, but I do not have You Have a Right to Remain Silent.. And I guess one of these days, either you're gonna send it to me or I'm gonna have to break down and purchase it, which is it gonna be? 

[00:07:56] Mark M. Bello: Your choice

[00:07:58] Bob Gatty: You can send it to me if you have an extra one. I gotta, what? I

[00:08:02] Mark M. Bello: Would have to order it and send it to you, but I'll do that. You get, you 

[00:08:05] Bob Gatty: get author's copies that are cheap, so just send one, send me one. 

[00:08:10] Mark M. Bello: If you add the price of an author's copy to the price of shipping, it comes out the same. But I'm happy to do that. Just having, because I love you, man. Because I love you, man. I

[00:08:20] Bob Gatty: know, I mean, we're great friends. It's been awesome. And one of these days when I get whatever book I am currently working on, which I've got, I'm always doing something different. Anyway, when it's done, I'll send it to you.

[00:08:34] Yeah, you'll be happy. You'll be happy, you'll say, oh, it was just great. All right, so let's get back to, let's get back to though this book. It really sounds like a fascinating story, Mark, really does 

[00:08:51] Mark M. Bello: She gets invited to speak at this local college. She's a, she's new at this and having anxiety over having to public speak. The, speaking engagement goes well. She finishes it. She's planning on having a quiet evening before she has to go on to her next event. And she gets a phone call from her best friend that there's been a murder on campus. Who, by the way, sh she has met this gentleman at her event and her friend Tyler, and professor Johnstone the victim, get into an altercation a verbal spat right in front of Rosalyn and Tyler obviously doesn't like this man very much. And of course, the person he gets into the spat with, ends up dead.

[00:09:53] So Tyler becomes the principal suspect of the Harbor Springs police. And Rosalyn decides she's going to do her best to exonerate him. Okay. He becomes not only the suspect, but he's arrested and jailed, and it's her job because the cops don't want to focus on anybody else but Tyler, it's her job to find the real killer.

[00:10:24] Bob Gatty: But during the course of that, she received a bunch of death threats. 

[00:10:29] Mark M. Bello: She receives a couple of anonymous death threats. Warning her to stay away from the investigation. She's not gonna do that because Tyler's a good friend of hers and she wants to find proof of his innocence.

[00:10:43] And, again it, introduces as most cozy mysteries do, it introduces multiple people throughout the novel potential suspects potential clues. As I indicated it was a fun book to write, and it's a fun book to read. 

[00:11:03] Bob Gatty: Okay, so who did kill Professor Johnstone?

[00:11:07] Mark M. Bello: Say that again. 

[00:11:09] Bob Gatty: Who killed 

[00:11:10] Mark M. Bello: Read the book? Killed a Guy? Read Read the book . It might have been Tyler . It might have been Tyler. 

[00:11:16] Bob Gatty: You mean you're not gonna share that information with us? 

[00:11:19] Mark M. Bello: No, You gotta wait till the, you gotta wait till the end and you gotta read the book. . Are, you one of the, are you one of those people that reads the book from back to front?

[00:11:28] Bob Gatty: No, I don't like to do that.

[00:11:31] Mark M. Bello: I know a lot of people who do that. I don't understand that. 

[00:11:34] Bob Gatty: I don't like to do that. I don't like to find out what's especially a mystery. And I love mysteries. I read a ton of mysteries. My favorite my favorite genre. I just love whodunits , Especially legal thrillers.

[00:11:47] That's why I like your books, mark. 

[00:11:50] Mark M. Bello: You'll, enjoy these two if you, haven't read"You Have the Right to Remain Silent," right? 

[00:11:54] Bob Gatty: No, I haven't. No. I 

[00:11:56] Mark M. Bello: you'll enjoy both of those books. 

[00:11:58] Bob Gatty: I need both of these books desperately. 

[00:12:00] Mark M. Bello: You got, you got it, buddy. Okay. Okay. . Now, now you just save me, you just saved me some shipping costs.

[00:12:08] Cause I think I can ship two of them. That's just fine. 

[00:12:12] Bob Gatty: You're, all over that. That's, fine. Yeah. Now you tell me What about these other books that we haven't talked at all on a show about your children's books, about your cookbook? We and, if you got anything else going on, I don't know about, but now's a good time to, to let the people know what, your other projects have been and, what's available and all that.

[00:12:39] Mark M. Bello: Okay. I have two children's books. Yeah. One, one is, one is currently available on Amazon and other online book sellers. Barnes and Noble, Nobo, Apples. It's called Happy Jack, sad Jack. A bullying story. Yeah. It's it's won some awards including the Mom's Choice Bold Award, which is a it's a, it's an organization run by mothers Yeah.

[00:13:08] Of small children. And and they gave me the gold medal. So that was cool. 

[00:13:15] Bob Gatty: That, is just excellent. And, I have to tell you I read that that book and I really liked it. 

[00:13:22] Mark M. Bello: It's a nice, it's a nice little book. The, topic obviously is, heavy, but it's written in a way that a young child can read it, enjoy it not be traumatized by it, yet learned a very important lesson. 

[00:13:41] Bob Gatty: Do you think the Republicans will let it be carried in the school libraries? After all... 

[00:13:48] Mark M. Bello: I don't, I can't answer that question. I, would imagine that, they might find the book to be quote woke quote. I, don't know. My favorite quote in the mo in the movie.

[00:14:00] I was gonna say in the book, , 

[00:14:02] Bob Gatty: maybe there will be a movie you never know. 

[00:14:05] Mark M. Bello: Goes, like this. Yeah. People are different in color, shape, size, ears, noses, mouths and different shaped eyes. Yeah. Different races and genders more too. Were Christian or Buddhist or Muslim or Jew. But there's one thing in common we all have in this place, we are all valued members of this human race.

[00:14:28] Now, maybe that's too woke for a Republican. I don't know. 

[00:14:31] Bob Gatty: Oh you know what? Too woke. You know what? I just had somebody do a blog for, the Lean to the Left blog site on talking about woke and what the hell is it? And the fact that the Republicans use it all the time, but half of 'em don't even know what it means.

[00:14:50] Mark M. Bello: I don't think it's, I think it's an invented word. I don't know that anybody quote knows what it means. Wha t's interesting here in Florida where I am right now, you, mentioned writing a blog. If you write a blog that says Ron DeSantis is anti woke and wishes to ban certain books from Florida schools, there's a new bill that he's trying to get passed in Florida that if you want to criticize Ron DeSantis, you have to get permission to write a blog in Florida. 

[00:15:33] Bob Gatty: What? ? 

[00:15:33] Mark M. Bello: Look it up. Look it up my friend. You wanna write an article about Ron DeSantis, you have to get his permission.

[00:15:40] That's, you think that's gonna pass Constitutional muster? 

[00:15:43] Bob Gatty: Oh sure. 

[00:15:45] Mark M. Bello: It might in Florida. If, when it hits the United States Supreme Court Yeah. That, that, that law is outta here. Yeah. That's called a prior restraint, which is not kosher. But anyway Jack is a kindergartner, he's a biracial child.

[00:16:07] He's lived a, rather sheltered life for his first five years. He go, he goes to school and realizes he's different from the other kids because a little white kid comes and pushes him in the playground just because he's different than the other children. And the book basically tells the story of how a school and a community should come together and defend a child from being bullied.

[00:16:36] It's, it is illustrated by MT Faugust, a friend of mine, she's a very talented illustrator and an author of children's books herself. And it's just a, it's just a nice little story that I think would, be a good tale for a teacher to use to introduce young children. And that's the reason I wrote it, to teach young children that bullying is not a good thing.

[00:17:07] Bob Gatty: now, do you plan on, expanding the use of this book by speaking to schools and kids and doing events and that kind of thing? 

[00:17:22] Mark M. Bello: Yes, I would love to do that. It's a difficult arena to break into. There are people who for lack of a better way to say it, specialize in writing books that they introduce to elementary schools.

[00:17:40] But I'm working on it. You and I are working on a project to create an audio version of the book. So that we can introduce it to elementary schools across the country. Okay. 

[00:17:53] Bob Gatty: Okay. By the way While you were talking, I pulled up the blog that do you remember Dr.

[00:18:01] Pamela Gurley? 

[00:18:02] Mark M. Bello: Yes. 

[00:18:03] Bob Gatty: Yeah, she was on our, she was on, I think she was on both of our shows. And, she writes an occasional blog for my Lean to the Left blog site. Dr. Gurley's, the person who wrote this piece about the culture war over woke policies, and she says, just as an interesting point of view or point of information.

[00:18:31] She says the term woke has its roots in African-American vernacular English, and was originally used as slang to describe a person who was socially aware and conscious of injustice. Now, it seems to me that if that's the case, how is it that the Republicans even knew about. . 

[00:18:54] Mark M. Bello: Not only that, but thank you very much.

[00:18:56] Yeah. If you wanna, if you, if that's the definition and you want to accuse me of being woke. Yeah, I, I have, I gracious, I graciously accept and thank you for the compliment. 

[00:19:07] Bob Gatty: Me too. A hundred percent. Yeah, so if you, anyone would like to just check that out it's at lean to the left.net. 

[00:19:14] Mark M. Bello: I don't think that's, I don't think that's the way they, are interpreting or using the term.

[00:19:21] Bob Gatty: Oh, it's not, it's not that's a complimentary use of it. And they're, turning it into a negative 

[00:19:31] Mark M. Bello: No, but how, have they usurped a term that is a complimentary term and turned it into a negative? 

[00:19:38] Bob Gatty: It's the way they do everything. They they turn everything backwards , to Republicans and Trump.

[00:19:46] Mark M. Bello: it's just what's troubling Bob and, again, I take, politics out of it. Yeah. I, just, what I don't understand is why it's fashionable or popular to not be nice to people. I know. Tolerant, of people I know. Reach out a hand in friendship instead of a fist in in. opposition. It just seems to me that a lot of the problems in America today could be solved by simply talking to each other and being nicer to each other. And that's what Happy Jack is about. It's about, yeah. Taking a kid that might be a little different and him, like with respect and, dignity, like you would treat like you would want others to treat you.

[00:20:36] Bob Gatty: Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:20:38] Mark M. Bello: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. 

[00:20:41] Bob Gatty: Yeah. I just wanted to say, Mark, you, wrote that book in rhyme and it is just so beautifully done. I didn't know what lawyer had the ability to switch modes and be able to write that 

[00:20:56] Mark M. Bello: Thank you. 

[00:20:57] Bob Gatty: Don't you wanna smack me for that backhanded compliment about lawyers? 

[00:21:01] Mark M. Bello: No. no I, think it was a very, nice thing you said. I I, got what you said. I just I, choose. I choose to, listen to the nice part of it, right? . 

[00:21:17] Bob Gatty: Okay. You know what? Since you, we talked about Happy Jack, Sad Jack, anybody happy about reading your cookbook?

[00:21:26] Mark M. Bello: Not very many people have read it, but everybody that has. But everybody that has read it has enjoyed it. 

[00:21:32] Bob Gatty: Oh, that's good. . That's good. So does it have what family recipes and things like that? 

[00:21:39] Mark M. Bello: Tell you the, way that came about Yeah. Is I am a member of a very, large Jewish family from Poland on my mother's side and Russia on my father's side. Okay. And obviously I don't need to tell you if you look at the generational issues there. On my mother's side, most of my relatives were escaping the Nazis, right? On my father's side, most of my relatives were escaping the pogroms. Okay. So in either place Jews were not very welcome. 

[00:22:23] My mother's family has a very large family club that got started in the Detroit area where I live after several of the family members left and they started what, was known as the Rothenberg Family Club. Okay. Yeah. On the 75th anniversary of the club, which happened a few years ago, they produced this pamphlet, which had a bunch of recipes in it, the Rothenberg Family Cookbook, and the recipes are just outstanding, wonderful recipes. Okay. And I added a few of my wife's and a few of my father's family's recipes. And I decided it would be fun to create Zachary Blake's family recipe. Okay. So I invented a, the name of his mother's family and called them the Lewin family, and obviously his name is Blake. His father's family is the Blake family. So I created the Blake Lewin family cookbook and used my own family's recipes in the cookbook. Okay. Then, I decided there's some funny stories in my family that I could tell in this book, about my aunts and my uncles and cousins and so on.

[00:24:03] And then I, and then there are, Stories I can make up and, have some fun. So I, so I took some family stories and some made up stories, combined them into a rather cute, little funny book in addition to recipes. I introduce each recipe by introducing the person who cooked the recipe or who, whose recipe it is.

[00:24:28] Okay. And that makes for a, funny little book and 

[00:24:32] Bob Gatty: Oh, that's interesting. 

[00:24:33] Mark M. Bello: It was enjoyable to write. 

[00:24:34] Bob Gatty: That's interesting. So that's also a, what's the name of that book? 

[00:24:40] Mark M. Bello: That's called the, it's called L'Dor V'Dor II because I wrote the, if you recall, I wrote a Holocaust survival memoir, a novella, called L'Dor V'Dor, from generation to generation.

[00:24:56] And I thought, okay, from from generation to generation is a great way to describe what this cookbook is about. Cause it it's a generational cookbook, so I called it L'Dor V'Dor from generation to generation two, the Blake Lewin Family Cookbook. Jewish family cookbook. And as, I indicated, it has some funny stories in it and some great recipes, and it was very enjoyable to write. 

[00:25:25] Bob Gatty: Okay, so here is a guy who he writes a series of legal thrillers, Zachary Blake legal thrillers, eight of them. And then he produces this family cookbook based on recipes from his family and was able to weave in some information and some stories about, about his family. And and, then he switches gears writes a kid's book in rhyme and he does it to talk about bullying a hugely important topic. And then he turns around and he writes another damn novel this time a whodunit that has nothing to do really with any of the political issues that he typically writes about, except that he has this judge, who the judge wrote a book, right? Yeah. She's written a fascinating new book and invited to speak to the local co. So yeah, so she wrote so she wrote this book and, weaves in that book some of the very political issues that Mark likes to talk about, justice, and so he can't get away from that.

[00:26:56] He just can't..

[00:26:57] Mark M. Bello: It's, been the topic of my life, that's for sure. By the way, there's also a, new children's book in the works. The book is written Melinda, my illustrator, is still doing the illustration. So that's the reason that book is not, that book, by the way, is about distracted driving and how doing two things at once is not always a good thing to do. 

[00:27:23] Bob Gatty: Oh, wow. When do you have time to take a breath, pal, writing takes a long time. 

[00:27:30] Mark M. Bello: Yes, it does. I'm enjoying myself. We, were discussing off the air about how the, senior years causes the body to break down, what I'm trying to do here is keep my mind active while my body begins to fail. 

[00:27:45] Bob Gatty: You know what Mark that's the reason why I do my blog and that's the reason why I do my podcast. Yep. And, it is just an incredible experience being able to talk to so many interesting people all over, really all literally all over the world and share some of their insight and stories and so on and so forth.

[00:28:07] It's an extremely satisfying thing to do and, as far as I'm concerned it's made my retirement years go really quickly because I'm just enjoying that. And, it's been a real pleasure too to you were one of my first guests when I first started this thing and, now we've been working together on your Justice Counts podcast what, for a couple years now.

[00:28:35] Mark M. Bello: Yeah. Yeah. I've, enjoyed it. It's funny I consider you a friend. I consider you a mentor, a partner . You and I have never actually physically met. 

[00:28:50] Bob Gatty: I know. Is it? That's amazing. That's, really amazing. Okay. Mark so your books, they're on presume available on Amazon 

[00:29:01] Mark M. Bello: anywhere else.

[00:29:02] All, the books are available on Amazon. The. The first five were available in audio. Okay. The other online book sellers Barnes and Noble, Cobo, apple all carry my books. But the big Goliath in the room is Amazon. They're available on Amazon. 

[00:29:28] Bob Gatty: Okay. Okay. So that's great. Anything else you wanna tell us about before we sign off?

[00:29:34] Mark M. Bello: I'm working on a new Zachary Blake, which I don't know when that'll come out. And I'm working also on a legal romance novel of all things. I'm trying to mix it up a little. 

[00:29:47] Bob Gatty: Romance, 

[00:29:50] Mark M. Bello: legal romance. It's gotta have a legal slant. Just like my cozy mystery is a cozy legal mystery.

[00:29:57] I've got a, I've got a copy of it here. It's a, it's an author's, it's an author's proof, but Right. There's the book. Is it backwards? That's beautiful. No, it's fine. Oh, okay. Yeah so, that's fine. As you can, see, it says Cozy Legal Mystery. And the same thing with the romance novel.

[00:30:16] I'm going to, I'm gonna write a, I've written about a hundred pages. I'm, gonna write a legal romance novel. 

[00:30:25] Bob Gatty: Okay. That sounds interesting, . 

[00:30:29] Mark M. Bello: I'm having a good time. 

[00:30:31] Bob Gatty: You must be, I'm telling you what. All right. Okay, Mark, I appreciate you sharing all this with us and I hope you guys watching on both Lean to the Left and Justice Counts check out Mark's books. They're really good. 

[00:30:48] Mark M. Bello: Thank you, . Thanks, Bob. I appreciate it. 

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