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postheadericon Virtual Book Tour: Interview with Science Fiction Author David T. Pennington

David T. PenningtonDavid T. Pennington grew up in a small northern California town called Paradise, but his home is in San Francisco. While his associate’s degree in computer programming has helped pay the bills, his bachelor’s degree in psychology has informed his writing. His love of fiction–mainly mysteries, science fiction, and thrillers–is balanced by his fascination with books on futurism, theoretical physics, and cosmology. Peer Through Time is his debut novel.

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Q: Thank you so much for this interview, David! Can you tell us where you are from?

A: Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m from Paradise—not the mythical utopia, but a small town in northern California. My other homes have been Tampa, FL, and, currently, San Francisco, CA.

Q: How did you come up with your title?

A: I came up with the title Peer Through Time after brainstorming dozens of potential titles incorporating the word “time.” This one appealed to me because “peer” can be a verb or a noun, and both meanings apply to my story.

Peer Through Time 2Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?

A: The cover was designed by Filament Communications, via Writerly Star Services. The creek and rope-swing are from some scenes in the novel, while the blood is symbolic of the murder mystery within. I would prefer to credit the designer by name, which wasn’t provided to me, but otherwise, I’m thrilled with the final image.

Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

A: No need to run—order it online and let it come to you! Peer Through Time is a unique blend of sci-fi and murder mystery, with just enough science to satiate nerds like me, without weighing down the plot with too much tech speak. Through its characters, the novel examines the gray areas between good and evil, fate and free will, and memory retention and memory loss—and it does so with some surprising twists.

Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?

A: In a way, yes, but I prefer to for readers to come up with their own interpretations. I’ll state at least one message, though. Always be open to friendship, as it can develop from the most unlikely sources.

Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?

A: My favorite chapter to write was one that takes place in San Francisco during the 1930s. It required some historical research, which only increased my appreciation of the city I love.

Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?

A: The characters kept having conversations with each other in my head. I had to let them out and give them something to do.

Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?

A: This isn’t necessarily dark, but I’m not a religious person, while many of my friends and loved ones are. Writing the character Margaret as a deeply religious scientist was, in part, my way of coming to terms with that.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

A: I’d like to visit Australia. Obviously that’s a huge continent and I’d have to narrow it down more, but I love listening to an Australian accent. Maybe that’s a silly reason, and it’s certainly not the only reason, but that’s what came to mind.

Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

A: A little of both. I love the solitude and quiet of nighttime. I used to find it after the sun went down, while these days I tend to find it in the wee morning hours, before the sun comes up.

Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

A: My mom likes to write, and she has considered writing children’s books. Maybe I can convince her it’s never too late.

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

Oh, I was definitely a dreamer. Somehow I managed to do well in school, despite being mentally absent during most lessons.

Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?

A: Thank you, magic genie. I wish for all the benefits of coming medical technologies to be available and affordable now, so that my loved ones can remain here as long as possible.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

A: I love to hear from my readers, either by way of a written review or personal email, about what did or didn’t work for them about the story. While praise is wonderful feedback, constructive criticism is welcome as well. All my contact information is available on my website at http://davidtpennington.com.

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postheadericon Night Buddies Go Sky High by Sands Hetherington Book Feature!

 

Title: Night Buddies Go Sky High

Author: Sands Hetherington

Publisher: Dune Buggy Press

Pages: 144

Genre: Children’s Book

Format: Paperback

Young John Degraffenreidt and his red crocodile buddy, Crosley, show up at the Pineapple Cheesecake Factory and find Big Foot Mae lying on the floor, staring up at her Great Star Puzzle on the ceiling. Crosley only wants a new supply of pineapple cheesecakes, but what Mae points to on her ceiling will start the Night Buddies on a totally new fantasy adventure. A suspicious white dot has passed through the Corkscrew Constellation and is now moving underneath the Hound Dog Stars. Across the Borough, Crosley s brother Crenwinkle sees the same curious speck in the sky. It looks to be a long night for sleepyhead John, but thanks to the time spreader dingus with its sleep retardant setting, he gets right into their next escapade. Join the Night Buddies as they embark on another Program, this time taking them all the way into the stratosphere in their racing blimp.

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  • Night Buddies Go Sky High is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Sands Hetherington, the creator of Night Buddies series of chapter books, credits his son John for being his principal motivator. Sands and young John developed the Crosley crocodile character in the series during months of bedtime story give-and-take. They collaborated many nights on escapades starring John and Crosley, until eventually it occurred to Sands why it was that Crosley was bright red. That was when the first book came together.

Sands raised his son as a single parent from the time John was six. He read to him every night during those formative years: all of the classic children’s stories from Aesop through the Grimms, Lewis Carroll, Frank Baum, Tolkien and Dahl, with a lot of Dickens and Hugo thrown in. When school was out they got in the car and toured Alaska, Canada and most of the contiguous states. John still gets around. So far he has lived in Germany, Scotland, Russia, England and Spain.

Dogs have always been a part of the author’s life, beginning with Whiskers, a cocker spaniel. When his wonderful boxer Hube died, he despaired of finding a boxer who could match him, and instead got a Saint Bernard. He ended up breeding Saints for a number of years and at this point has had twelve as house pets. Sands says dogs can do you a power of good, and if you lose one, go out and get another the next day and you will be surprised at how fast your grief goes away.

Sands is also a Civil War buff. He would like to spend a month of evenings with common soldiers from both sides to see how they felt about the business. And eccentric generals like Jackson, Sherman and Forrest, and most of all Lincoln. Because Lincoln never gets to smile in his pictures.

The author was born in New York City but was transplanted a year later to Greensboro, North Carolina, where his maternal grandmother lived. He never really left the area and has a lot of the South in him. His grandmother was a prominent educator and became a great friend and mentor.

Sands majored in history at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and has an M.F.A. in creative writing and an M.A. in English from UNC-Greensboro. He lives in Greensboro now, and hangs out with his longtime friend Ann and their Saint Bernards Dudley and Maggie. He likes visiting ancient Mediterranean sites in Turkey and Italy, and most of all Greece.
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postheadericon First Chapter Reveal: The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen

The Ark 3Title: The Ark
Author: Laura Liddell Nolen
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 239
Genre: YA Scifi
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Nook

There’s a meteor headed for Earth, and there is only one way to survive.

It’s the final days of earth, and sixteen-year-old Char is right where she belongs: in prison. With her criminal record, she doesn’t qualify for a place on an Ark, one of the five massive bioships designed to protect earth’s survivors during the meteor strike that looks set to destroy the planet. Only a select few will be saved – like her mom, dad, and brother – all of whom have long since turned their backs on Char.

If she ever wants to redeem herself, Char must use all the tricks of the trade to swindle her way into outer space, where she hopes to reunite with her family, regardless of whether they actually ever want to see her again, or not . . .

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First Chapter:

On the last day of Earth, I couldn’t find my hairbrush. That probably seems like a silly thing to worry about, what with the imminent destruction of, well, everything, but my mom was always after me about my usual ratty ponytail. Normally, I’d ignore her. Or, if I were having a really bad day, I’d tell her what she could do with her hairbrush. But like I said, it was the last day of Earth. And I figured, since it was the last time she’d ever see me, I wanted it to go smoothly. I wanted her to remember me, if not fondly, then at least without anger.

A girl can dream.

I slipped out of my cell as soon as the door swung open. I’d done the same every day for the past month, and my family had yet to show up. Their OPT—Off-Planet Transport—took off in eighteen hours, so they still had time. Barely. I couldn’t blame them if they didn’t come. It wasn’t hard to imagine that they’d rather escape to the stars without so much as a backward glance at me, their big disappointment. Even my father’s influence couldn’t persuade the government to give me a spot on an OPT.

Turns out, when humankind is deciding which of its children to save, the last place it looks is in prison.

But I was pretty sure they’d come. West had said as much in his last transmission. The thought of my younger brother actually halted me mid-step, like one of those punches in the gut where you can’t breathe for a few seconds.

“Looking for something?” The lazy drawl floated out of the nearest cell.

Against my better instincts, I turned to see Cassa lying on her bunk, her arm draped across Kip. My Kip. Or at least, my ex-Kip. Whatever. In twenty-two hours, I wouldn’t have to think about him anymore.

See? Silver lining. And they called me a perpetual pessimist at my last psych workup.

They barely fit next to each other on the flimsy mattress, but that wasn’t the weird part. The guys’ ward was separated by a substantial metal wall. We were kept apart during evening hours, for obvious reasons. Not that anyone cared anymore. The med staff had been the first to go, followed by the cleaning crew, followed by the kitchen crew. To show you where girls like me fell on the government’s list of priorities, there was still a skeleton crew of guards lurking around, despite the fact that I hadn’t had a real meal for going on a week. The guards would be gone soon, too, and then there’d be no one in here but us chickens.

I figured either Kip had a key, or the guards had left already. A key could be useful. My curiosity got the best of me. “How’d he get in here before the first bell?”

He cocked an eyebrow. “I got some tricks you ain’t seen, babe. Why don’t you join us? End of the world and all.”

The guards were gone, then. I felt a small trill of anxiety deep in my chest. If the guards were gone, my family was even less likely to show. But it was never smart to show fear. “The Pinball could be headed straight for this building, and I still wouldn’t be desperate enough to touch you. Oh, wait. Guess you don’t have to take my word for it.”

I turned to leave, but he continued. “Now is that any way to treat your dear ole partners? Be nice or I won’t give you back your stuff.”

“Ugh, you were in my room?” I flexed my shoulder blades, making sure my gun was still tightly secured between them.

“Don’t worry, Char. I didn’t handle the merchandise. Didn’t want to wake you up. Just lifted me a few keepsakes.” He pronounced my name the way I like: Char, as in charred. Something that got burned.

I wasn’t sure what Kip and Cassa were planning, but I knew I wouldn’t like it. They were thieves and liars. I would know. I used to be one of them. That was before the last job, when Cassa had attacked an elderly man in the home we were robbing. She’d kicked him until he stopped fighting back. Kip had called her off after a few licks, but I just stood there, staring. The old man looked at me, like right at me, while we made our getaway, and my stomach twisted into a knot so tight that I tasted bile. That was the moment I knew I wanted out.

But by then, no one believed me. Or, if they did, no one cared. Except for Kip and Cassa, of course. They’d taken the news pretty hard, to put it lightly.

If I lunged for the box, I could probably grab my hairbrush and get out of there. I wouldn’t have time for more than that. Then again, I’d be doing exactly what they expected, and I didn’t have time for delays. My family could be in the commissary any second now.

“Ahem. Seeing as it’s your last day of life, I might let you have one thing back,” said Kip.

“In exchange for what?”

“I’m hurt. All our time together, and you still don’t believe in my inherent generosity. But now that you mention it, I’ve got a hankering for some peanut butter crackers.”

“Sorry, Kip. I’m fresh out of food. Kinda like everyone else.”

“Nice try, Charrr.” He drew my name out, as though tasting it. “I saw them yesterday. Figured you were hiding them under your pillow when I couldn’t find them last night.”

“You figured wrong.”

All I could think about was my brother’s face. And how I had this one last chance to apologize to my parents, for everything. I shrugged and turned to leave.

That was probably a mistake.

About five steps past Cassa’s cell, an enormous weight tackled me from behind. My chest and face hit the dirty concrete. My anxiety over my parents leveled up into near-panic territory. I could not afford to deal with this right now. I flipped onto my back and jerked my knee upward, and Kip let out a groan.

But Cassa was already there, standing over us. She kicked my head, and my arms and legs quit obeying me. I was vaguely aware of the dispassionate stares coming from other cells as Kip and Cassa dragged me back to their room.

“Now, now, love,” Kip murmured. “That was no way to treat your old friends.”

“She’s gone soft. Must have been distracted.” Cassa wasn’t British, but she had the intensely annoying habit of using a fake accent. Not all the time, either. Just with certain words or phrases. In my opinion, that made it even worse. It was probably an attempt to impress Kip. Or to prove to everyone she spent a lot of time with him.

They propped me up against the wall, and Kip began tying my wrists with a twisted black cord he pulled out of nowhere.

“Screw you.”

“Is that any way for a lady to talk?” he said cheerfully, slipping his hand up my shirt. His fingers were like ice, and I winced. “Aha—found them.” He removed a packet of crackers and waggled them in front of my face. Those were going to be my last meal. I bit back a curse. Wouldn’t have made much difference in the end, anyway.

I didn’t fully panic until they tied the ends of the cord to the exposed pipe of the sink.

“Wait, no. My family’s going to be here. I have to get downstairs.”

“No one’s coming for you. And even if they were, do you really think they want to see you?”

Cassa grinned down at me. “But me and Kip, that’s a different story. We’re busting out of here.”

“Figured we’d do a bit of traveling in our twilight years. I mean, hours. See the world, that sort of thing. So we need all the supplies we can get. And no one has supplies like you,” said Kip.

Cassa spat. “And if you hadn’t rolled on us, we might be bringing you along. Think about that while you wait for the Pinball. Alone.”

I kicked at them, once, and Cassa responded by plopping down on top of my legs. Normally I’d have been able to deal with that, but nothing about today was normal, and I had to settle for growling at her. Somehow, that made me feel even more helpless. My face was abruptly hot, and I gave myself temporary permission to hold my breath. If I cried, I’d never get over it.

I didn’t breathe until I had to. Gradually, my head cleared. “Don’t tell me you’re going hunting for the Remnant. They don’t exist.”

Cassa paused, just for an instant, and Kip gave me a hard look. “She couldn’t possibly know that.”

“She’s friends with the Mole.”

Kip rolled his eyes. “He couldn’t possibly know that. He doesn’t know everything, Cass.”

“You sure about that?” I said. “He knows the way out. He wouldn’t still be here if they exist. If there were even a chance.”

Cassa bit her lip, but Kip ignored me and continued his search. He was a bit rougher than before. “Ah, what have we here? Little blade-stick-doohickey?” He pulled a makeshift knife from the leg of my pants and twisted it in his fingers. “Fair enough. Not your best work though, if I’m honest.”

“Hello, what’s this?” Cassa yanked me forward and pulled my shirt up in the back. There was a tearing pain as she ripped the duct tape off my shoulder blades. “Bingo. Char, you never disappoint.”

Kip held the gun up to my face and grinned while peeling the remainder of the tape from the barrel. It had been my finest moment. The guard I stole it from never saw it coming. I consoled myself with the thought that, in a few short hours, I would never need a gun again. The thought was a lot more comforting than it should have been. It was probably the only silver lining I would cling to, in the end. No more guns, no more eternally disappointed family members. No more pitying glances from judges or lawyers or parole boards. Or West.

“I believe our work here is done,” Cassa said. She couldn’t get away from me soon enough. “Time to make our way in the world.”

“Good luck with that,” I muttered.

They stood to leave, but Kip stopped at the door. “Here,” he said, pulling my shoebox off the bed and tossing it to the ground in front of me. “For old times’ sake.”

And then they were gone.

 

 

postheadericon After Ozz by Bart Baker Book Feature!


Title: After Ozz

Author: Bart Baker

Publisher: CreateSpace

Pages: 254

Genre: Young Adult

Format: Kindle/Paperback

With her uncle, the President of the United States, presumed dead and her beloved younger brother, Ozz, missing, Dot Gale is whisked into an odyssey in a different, very strange dimension. With the aid of three friends she makes on this arduous adventure, Scared Crow, Heartless and half man/half beast, Lars, Dot must battle the diabolically deadly Empress West if she is ever to return home with Ozz. Can Dot survive the evil machinations of the Empress and return home to rescue the United States before her wicked Aunt Emily succeeds with her sinister plan to take over the country?

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Q: Please tell us about AFTER OZZ, and what inspired you to write it. 

A: AFTER OZZ is my first YA novel, and I immediately saw this as a series of three books, following Dot as she battles the Empresses, first for her brother, then for her uncle, and finally, to save her country. But adding reimagined elements from THE WIZARD OF OZ made it that much more fun to write, playing with convention and expectation. It was a joy to write. I love these characters and I love the story.

 Q: What themes do you explore in AFTER OZZ? 

A: I never write with theme in mind, but they do emerge organically, usually through the characters. I love the themes of family, of sacrifice, of someone growing to become a bigger, better person that overcomes difficult and often deadly obstacles yet keeps her humanity.

 Q: Why do you write? 

A: I have been writing professionally for over 30 years. I am also a playwright and a screenwriter. I’ve had eight plays produced around the world, and I have written eleven produced movies, both for the big screen and TV. I’ve also written on four television series. Presently, I’m writing the remake of BEACHES for the Lifetime network. My first novel, HONEYMOON WITH HARRY was bought for a film and presently Bradley Cooper is interested in both starring and directing. AFTER OZZ is my third novel, behind WHAT REMAINS. I write daily, it’s my job and my passion. I’m blessed.

Q: How picky are you with language? 

A: Yes and no. Like most writers, or maybe I should say storytellers, because that’s really how I view myself, I have patterns. And when writing especially first drafts of anything, I find that I fall into those patterns easily and sometimes to a fault. As I subsequently rewrite, I change those things up and try and keep the writing fresh. Also, characters tell you how they speak and how they see the world. I like to make sure how I tell their story is close to them and their uniqueness.

Q: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar? 

A: Without a doubt. I’ve been doing this a long time, it’s not a hobby, it’s my livelihood. And I don’t think I could have sustained a career this long as a storyteller on my own. Things just come to me, as if given over by some other internal creative entity. I don’t consider myself a smart guy, an inventive guy, and it took me years to tell people I was a writer because I never struggled with story or character because they created themselves in my head and tell me their stories which I am blessed enough to be able to write down.

Q: What is your worst time as a writer? 

A: When my kids are home. Oh, you don’t mean it that way? I think the worst time is when I’m just beginning to flesh things out on a project. I’m a results kind of guy who likes to run full bore at whatever I’m doing, and at the beginning you are taking baby steps, learning about your characters as they reveal themselves, understanding your story so that it’s cohesive and interesting. There’s a lot of time spent walking around the house, taking the dogs for a walk, being moody (just ask my family.) But eventually it all starts to click. The hard part, which is the worst part, is trusting that it will.

 Q: Your best? 

A: When the writing is flowing, the story is great and the characters are talking to you. When that portal inside you is open and it’s just pouring out and you can’t take credit for it, but you’re sure as hell happy it’s happening.

 Q: Is there anything that would stop you from writing? 

A: No. I’m a savant, it’s all I know as an occupation. And if it wasn’t my occupation (which I’m glad it is) it would be my hobby. Next to my family, writing is my greatest passion.

Q: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author? 

A: As an author, it was having my first novel, HONEYMOON WITH HARRY, received so well and then selling the movie rights in a big splashy sale that was covered in the press. Silly, vain…sure. But it was also a trip. Things like that don’t happen every day, so I tell every writer to wallow in the pig slop when you get the chance. Just never buy your own press. Because if you do, you don’t just get to believe the good, you have to believe the bad as well.

Q: Is writing an obsession to you? 

A: Completely. To the detriment of a lot of other things. Writers never really live totally in the moment. There is a piece of their mind that no matter what the circumstances, what the events going on in your life, is saying “I can use this,” and you are partially watching your own life.

 Q: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way? 

A: Without a doubt. I have come to the conclusion that as a storyteller, I can only tell stories that I am connected with, in the voice that I have. I am the best me. I’m not very good at being anyone else. So the stories have to come from my soul.

Q: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree? 

A: Ouch. I get it but ouch. Sadly, yeah, I somewhat agree with that on a variety of levels.

Q: Where is your book available? 

A: Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com are probably the easiest places to find it.

Q: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work? 

A: I have a web page bartbaker.com and I have a Facebook page. I love social media because I can stay connected with people, so I do use my Facebook page more than I update my website. I’m still a bit of a technophobe so the mechanics of how to change things on the web page addles me.

 

 

Bart and his family, Pastor Joe Elvis and their two sons Isaiah and Emmanuel, moved to St. Louis, Bart’s hometown. For nearly 30 year, Mr. Baker resided in Los Angeles, where he worked as a writer/producer in the entertainment industry.

He has had two feature films produced LIVE WIRE for New Line Pictures, and SUPERCROSS for Fox, as well as eleven films for television, including CHILDREN OF THE BRIDE, which spawned two sequels, BABY OF THE BRIDE and MOTHER OF THE BRIDE on CBS, as well as the Christmas perennial, A DIFFERENT KIND OF CHRISTMAS for Lifetime.

Mr. Baker has worked on film and TV projects for Warner Brothers, Tristar, New Line, Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC, Lifetime, USA Network, Syfy Network, Fox Television, The Family Channel, as well as working on staff on the FX Network series, DIRT starring Courteney Cox.

Presently, Mr. Baker has two projects in development, HONEYMOON WITH HARRY a feature film based on Bart’s debut novel of the same name at New Line with Bradley Cooper attached to star. Mr. Baker has also completed his second novel, IMMEDIATE FAMILY.

Mr. Baker also has eight produced theatrical plays under his belt.

An avid fitness buff and political junkie, Bart enjoys spending his free time with his family and friends, and enjoys teaching film/television writing classes at Webster University.

Writing is his passion and he feels blessed that he’s been able to make a living doing what he loves and for all the interesting people and events that he’s been exposed to through his work.

For More Information

Visit Bart at his website

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postheadericon In the Spotlight: Notorious P-Man Sam by Thomas Barr, Jr.

About The Book

TitleNotorious P-Man Sam: Miami’s Urban Chronicles Vol. 1 
Vol. 1: Miami’s Urban Chronicles
Author: Thomas Barr., Jr.
Publisher: VIP INK Publishing Group, Inc. / Printhouse Books
Publication Date: April 1, 2015
Format: Paperback - 88 pages / eBook
ASIN: B00U37SSM2
Genre: Urban Fiction

Purchase The Book:
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Barnes & Noble
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Book Description:

This book is about the struggle of African American men as they traverse the perils of 20th and twenty first century life in the professional realms of the work place atmosphere. The differences in opportunities are often overlooked in comparison to other classes and among the races.

The American dream is the realization of success in the face of struggle and hard work. Is it relevant that one’s struggle is harder than the other in accomplishment of this goal? P-Man Sam is a hard look at the road to self-empowerment and what it takes to make it in the American society. The entrepreneurial spirit is one of the main roads traveled in realization of the American dream.

It takes knowledge and a fearlessness to take a chance in the ruthless world of business in this society. It’s also important to be able to effectively communicate with the modern diverse society of today through effective people skills.

The P-Man Sam story brings an awareness of how to navigate negative experiences and transform them into motivational learning blocks. Learning from experiences and moving forward is essential in life. One’s eyes must be open and naïve thought processes must be conquered in attaining the ultimate prize. The following are useful for application:

• Mentorship
• Net working
• Coalition building
• Broad-mindedness

This book is a good source for inspiration and having hope is a major force in your journey through life. Situations and circumstances should not be viewed as a hindrance, but instead a hurdle in step to the finish line. There are many instances in this story that relay the struggle against forces that present obstacles. Willpower and dedication are true factors that assist the main character in winning out against such forces.

In conclusion, the power of love and support are sustaining factors in the realization of goals in life. The act of goal-setting itself is an important factor in accomplishing anything in pursuant of ambitious dreams. This novel is sprinkled with kernels of knowledge and inspirational wording designed to give the reader insight into the motivations of the main character that can be transcending to experience.

It is beneficial and intended to identify and acquire these gems of knowledge to retain as progressive career tools.

Book Excerpt: 
In the tenth year of the millennium, on the major Interstate of I-95 cars sped up the roadway and zinged pass construction barriers.  Many of the vehicles just barely swipe distressed vehicles’ parked roadside.  Sam Silvasteen drove with his windows down taking in the South Florida breeze as his car cruised at a comfortable speed.  A black car with a high performance sounding engine screeched up next to Sam’s car.  The sound of gunfire erupted and peppered the passenger’s side of Sam’s car with silver dollar sized bullet holes.  Sam jerked the steering wheel in an attempt to dodge the spray of bullets.  The men in the car continued to pace Sam’s car firing ruthlessly into the frame of the automobile.  Hot lead ripped through Sam’s flesh as he was hit with a volley of bullets.
Sam slammed into the median and the men sped off as his car coasted to a halt along the concrete rail.  Sam could hear the screaming brakes of other cars on the road and smell the scent of twisted metal as he faded out.  The Entrepreneurial President of Bandstand Magazine lay shot along the Miami corridor among twisted metal.  His life flashed before his eyes and he thought back on the events that led him to his current predicament.
Sam was a street wise entrepreneur who had escaped the shadows of the crime filled eighties drug environment of Miami.  Cocaine was the major drug that circulated thru the community of Dade County.  He transformed his life into a respectable businessman and attempted to help other urban youth in becoming productive community citizens.  Within the blink of an eye his life was turned upside down and the phantoms of his past attempted to snatch his mortal essence from existence.
Sam was initially raised in a single parent home.  When Sam turned ten in the year 1977, he was placed in an orphanage by his grandparents due to his mother’s early dementia among her other mental illness related problems.  Sam’s grandparents had six adult kids living in their home and couldn’t afford a proper home for young Sam.
***
“Who turned the damn T.V.,” yelled a burly kid his hair dripped with Gerri curl juice.  His voice echoed through the bare white walled dayroom of the orphanage.  Sam sat motionless as the other kids looked around not saying a word in response to the question.  The scarcely decorated room remained silent.  Most of the juveniles were Cuban exiles and spoke little English.  The burly kid steaming with rage yanked the plug out of the wall and kicked the T.V. over.  The loud crash and sound of breaking glass alerted the nearby sisters from the hallway entrance.
“What happened to the T.V.?”  Asked Sister Alice, she was new to Saint Joseph and relocated from Nicaragua to assist with the influx of prospective exiled children of political patriots.  She wore the traditional long flowing robes of her profession.  She was a looker and it could be speculated that she had her pick of the litter before being ordained.
“Jose kicked it over,” said the burly kid as he pointed at Jose Marti a skinny pale Cuban teen.  Jose possessed long limbs but his skinny frame made him look a bit goofy in appearance.
“Jose is this true?”  Replied Sister Alice, as she wheeled in his direction.  Jose remained silent as Sister Alice waited for him to respond.
“Jose didn’t do it Sister Alice,” Sam exclaimed.  His voice was firm and controlled.  “Well it didn’t happen on its on Sam,” replied Sister Alice in a sarcastic tone.  The burly kid cut his eyes at Sam and gave him a hard look.
She now turned to the burly kid, “Trey Brownlee if you’re fibbing you get twenty lashes,” She exclaimed.
“I swear….,” replied Trey before he could finish his sentence Sister Alice smacked him in the chest with a ruler.  In a heavy Spanish accent she sentenced Trey to spend the rest of the day in time out.
“Sam get this mess cleaned up,” she said as she escorted Trey from the room.
Sam immediately grabbed a garbage can to pick up the shards of glass that covered the floor.  Jose found a broom and swept some of the glass in a pile for Sam to scoop into the garbage.  The other kids resumed their activities as the hype died down.
Sam made a friend in Jose from the day of the T.V. incident with Trey.  They began their friendship working as partners at anything they did together.  Sam was a husky twelve year old and Jose was three years his senior.  The two got along quite well with no regards to their respective ages.  Lucky Barnes was a younger kid who hung around Burt Ramos the only Puerto Rican kid at the orphanage.  Lucky was a portly black kid with big hands.  Burt often used little Lucky when he was trying to hustle the other boys in marbles.
“Hey Sam,” said Burt.  “Trey is going to be pissed that you stuck your nose in his business.”
“Forget Trey,” responded Sam.  “If you’re down with Trey than forget you too,” said Sam as he flopped down onto a sofa in the dayroom of the orphanage.  A group of boys congregated at the corner of the day room and shot a game of marbles.
“Oh I’m down for myself and I was just making sure you knew what time it was,” said Burt as he made his way to the marbles game.  Lucky gave Sam thumbs up as he shuffled close behind Burt.
Jose pulled up a chair alongside Sam and said, “Now we have nothing to watch because of Trey.”  The boys protested loudly in the corner of the room while Burt tried to convince them he was not cheating.  “Hey I got ya back don’t let them get to you about that Trey stuff,” he said.
Sam sat straight up and replied, “I’m not worried about a thing.”  He extended his hand and slapped Jose five.  Jose watched a lot of T.V. and was hip to the street ways of black culture.  He understood the gesture and was happy to have made a friend in a place where watching out for self was paramount.  Sam was also careful in not being labeled a rat while sticking up for Jose.  He knew in befriending an older kid his chances of survival had increased tenfold.
***
The females were housed in an entirely different dorm wing as compared with the males.  The only times the two would mingle was during mealtimes and that was usually three times a day.  All the kids in the orphanage were supervised by nuns and the Mon Senior had final call on all activities.  Sam had his eye on this one pigtailed hair girl named Vivian Smart.  She was a beautiful vivacious teen who was present at the orphanage upon Sam’s arrival.
“Hi Sam,” she said as she sat down with her lunch at Sam’s table.  “I heard what you did for that Cuban kid the other day and I think it was courageous.”  Sam shifted in his chair.
“No big thing,” he replied.  “The kid looked as if he needed help and I stepped in.”  Sam dropped his head and continued to munch on his sandwich.  Vivian took a cookie from her tray and placed it on a napkin in front of Sam’s tray.  Sam didn’t raise his head but his heart quickened its pace.
“This is for your bravery,” she replied as she slid the napkin in Sam’s direction.  Sam was at a loss of words, and before he uttered his faint thank you Vivian had strode off and rejoined her friends.
The cafeteria was a bustle with kids and they were being closely monitored by the nuns for any improprieties.  Sam sat brooding as he finished his meal.  He missed he mother and siblings, while the orphanage provided a vibrant surrounding it lacked genuine personal connections.  Before his mother’s unfortunate problems Sam was often doted on by his family.  He was the youngest and the last born of his mother’s children.  His siblings were years older than he was and were all away trying to establish a life for themselves.  Sam hated being poor but what else could he do he thought to himself.
Sam made his way to the day room after lunch and sat looking at one of the day room windows.  He had a second period of classes in which he contemplated cutting.  Jose walked up to him and slapped him on the back, “What up Sam!”  He said in his best English.
“What’s up Jose,” replied Sam.  I got a couple of classes for second period and I do not feel like going,” said Sam with a sigh.
Jose was only a grade higher than Sam although he was fifteen.  His problems with the language barrier relegated him to grades lower than his normal level in Cuba.  “Let’s hangout in the courtyard or sneak over to the girl’s dorm,” replied Jose.
“Cool,” replied Sam.  He stashed his books under a nearby sofa and was out the door along with Jose.
***
The girl’s wing was well kept and immaculate in comparison to the facilities the boys maintained.  When not in class the girls milled around outside and played dodge ball on the cement courts.  The males and females rarely participated in physical activities except when there was a yearly festival occurring.  Jose and Sam hid behind a dumpster near the courts of the girl’s dormitory.  “Hey there’s Vivian,” said Sam as he ducked so he wouldn’t be seen by her.
“Who is Vivian?” Jose inquired.
“Nobody,” replied Sam.
The girls walked on a nearby court and began their ritual jump rope Double Dutch game.  Jose whistled trying to get one of the girls’ attention, Sam nudged him in the side.
“Are you trying to get us busted,” exclaimed Sam.
“No, just trying to get us some trim,” replied Jose.
One of the girls heard the commotion and walked over to where Sam and Jose were held up.  She saw them crouched behind the dumpster and immediately began screaming.  The boys tore out of their hiding place and ran for the nearest place to hide for cover.  Jose laughed hysterically as he tried to catch his breath from the sprint to the dormitory.
“You’re crazy,” remarked Sam bending over in exhaustion.
“That was a rush,” said Jose.
***
The two boys walked back to the day room and talked about the look on the girls’ faces when they realized they were being spied upon.  Classes were ending for the day and the dayroom was filled with students.  Music appreciation seminars were usually held by Sister Alice after dinner and Sam really enjoyed the sessions.  He profiled the different types of music genre as well as the musicians of past and contemporary times.  “I’m going to my room before dinner,” said Jose.
“See you later,” remarked Sam.
Sam remained in the dayroom leafing through his school books as he sat on a bench in the back of the room.  Sister Alice entered the dayroom recruiting groups to complete chores.  Sister Alice mentioned that the females were also participating and Sam decided to volunteer.  One group of males and one group of females were directed to the gymnasium area of the compound.  The two groups were instructed to scrub the floors and wash the walls.  Sam joined the chore group hoping to get a chance to be around Vivian.  Sam began scrubbing and to his dismay saw no sign of Vivian in the other group.
Sam continued to volunteer his services for the chores squad of Sister Alice in hopes of seeing Vivian.  On this one particular day the squad was tasked to clean the main administrative offices of parish officials.  Vivian was assigned to the task and Sam was delighted his persistence had finally paid off.  Sam decided he would work closely with Vivian and learn more about her interests.
“Hey what are you doing here?” said Sam.  Vivian stopped what she was doing and put her hands on his hips.
“The same thing you’re doing,” She said.  The girls giggled as Vivian smiled at Sam.
Sam thought to himself that was a dumb question to ask.  He never knew the right words to say to the members of the opposite sex.  She looked so beautiful standing there with a twinkle in her eyes and sass in her voice thought Sam.
“Well I was offering to help but I see you’re good,” Sam replied with a smirk.
“You’re such a good guy,” said Vivian with a wink.
Sam continued to work while the girls chatted about what guys they thought were cute in the boys’ dormitory.  Sam pondered his next move on how to get Vivian’s attention without her friends being around.  He thought he would have a better chance at an honest conversation on a one on one basis.  Sam would have to covertly recruit individuals to help with his plan and a major part of his plan would be Sister Alice.
Sam was exhausted after his chores and he lounged in the dayroom and watched the boys roll marbles.  A couple of maintenance men coordinated the installment of a new T.V. in place of the damaged one.  Jose walked in and made his way over to a nearby by sofa avoiding the guys on the floor as they shot marbles.
“So you were doing chores,” remarked Jose.  “Did you see your sweetheart Vivian,” he remarked with a laugh.  Sam ignored Jose’s remark and continued to watch the boys argue over taking a turn to roll marbles.
“When are you going to volunteer to help out around here?” asked Sam.  “Maybe you’ll meet a nice female.”  Sam remarked.
“My uncles say the best way to get a fine girl is with a lot of money,” said Jose.
“Yeah that works too,” said Sam with a chuckle.
Sam was intent on wining the heart of Vivian and he assured himself that love was his reason for his persistence.  Sam had not really known the love of a woman outside of his mother but he could not resist the emotion he felt when he was around Vivian.  Sam would be careful about revealing his feelings around the people he interacted with daily, because in his environment this could be a source of perceived weakness.
Trey entered the dayroom and stomped through the circled marbles on the floor where the boys were shooting marbles.  The sound of grinding glass against the floor could be heard as Trey twisted his foot on each stomp.  Marbles shot out from under Trey’s foot hitting the sides of nearby chairs, tables and walls.   The boys scuttled out of Trey’s path dodging flying marbles.
“Man why’d you do that!”  One of the enraged boys responded.
“Shut your trap,” retorted Trey.
Sam knew Trey was pissed he had challenged his rule in standing up for Jose.  Sam was ready for whatever retaliation Trey would seek to impose.  Sam continued to lounge nonchalantly on the sofa as Trey marauded around the dayroom.  Jose remained silent as he sat on the other sofa.  Sam could see Jose was tense and his demeanor had drastically shifted in relation to his earlier mood.  Sister Alice stuck her head through the doorway of the day room.
“We will have no trouble out of you today Trey,” She said as she disappeared down the hallway.
Sam sat at the breakfast table alone and ate his bowl of oatmeal in silence.  He soon felt a hand on his shoulder.  It was Sister Alice standing over him smiling with her black nun’s head dress draped over her hair.
“Sam don’t mind Trey much,” she said.  “Both his parents died of aids when he was just a toddler.”  She pulled up a chair and sat next to Sam.  Sam paused between spoons full of oatmeal as she continued to talk.
“He was raised by his grandmother until she died a couple of months ago and he seems to have a hard time adjusting.”  She said.
Sam thought to himself he was not having an easy time here either and why is she telling this story to someone who loathes Trey.  Sam began to fidget with his silverware as Sister Alice told Trey’s life story.  He desperately wished Jose would appear and interrupt her oration.  Sam could appreciate the concern Sister Alice felt for the kids of the orphanage.  He wondered if she spoke of his situation and issues with others as she did of Trey.
                Sam’s own home situation was what led to his current occupancy and he felt little empathy for Trey’s story.  Sam had few adult role models; however Sister Alice influenced the good in him.  Sam dreamed of the day when he could stand on his own without the need of the orphanage.  He was tired of being a kid and was ready to venture out into the world.  Sam was in his own thoughts now and subconsciously caught bits and pieces of Sister Alice’s conversation.  “You know Sam Saint Joseph will seek to be a solid base for your upbringing when you grow up,” she said.  Her voice seemed to trail off as her last comment reverberated in his thoughts.
                Sam desired to make a good impression to others by making himself who they thought he should be.  He would do tasks that made other people happy and would go all out to fit in with others.  Sam felt uneasy in the aftermath when he thought of this act of self repression.  His true nature was to be himself and explore who the real Sam was as an individual.
                Sam viewed Trey as a bully and an enemy to the free spirit of those around him.  Trey’s bully tactics blunted the freewill of others stunting their growth.  Sam in an attempt to be ordinary like everyone else downplayed his true abilities.  He had no desire to be recognized as exceptional in comparison to his colleagues.  The Trey types sought to bring out such exceptional abilities which made Sam hate him even more.
                Sam’s perceived abandonment issues stoked his desires for the camaraderie of others and he highly valued friendship.  Trey bullying tampered with that concept which in turn was a source for instability in Sam’s world.  Sam would mesh out any instability that threatened his contentment.  Trey would be met with the harsh retaliation whenever he threatened to disrupt Sam’s reality.
                Sister Alice realized Sam was not soaking in her words and stopped speaking.  She looked at Sam as he sat gazing into the distance.  She raised herself from her seated position and stood with her hands on her hips.  She shook her head and walked away from Sam as he continued his gaze.

 

                “Kids,” she said.
About The Author

Hailing from Miami Florida; Author Thomas Barr was born in Lake City, South Carolina home of the 2nd African American astronaut, killed on the Challenger space mission, Dr. Ronald E. McNair.  He is the grandson of a share cropper whom taught him the value of hard work and education.  At age 17 he began college at Bethune-Cookman University and graduated Cum Laude with honors.  While in college he was inspired to write when he read the novel, Black Boy by Richard Wright.  He began writing short stories for campus publications and won a $500 dollar publication contest in a local campus circular.  He entered the Air Force after college and spent two tours of duty in the gulf during the Persian Gulf War.  Upon leaving the Military he went back to school and completed graduate school at the University of Akron in Ohio earning a master of public administration.  He began a career in government as an Intern with the Ohio legislature and later became employed with the Florida Senate as a legislative assistant.  His current works were inspired by his work with the City of Miami as a civil servant in administration.

Thomas Barr’s writings reflect the everyday struggle of the average individual trying to make something of life.  Every person has a story to tell and the job of an inspirational writer is to bring those stories to life for the good of all.  As an author Thomas Barr desires to be the chronicler of inspirational stories designed to assist dreamers in achieving.

Connect with Thomas:
Author Website: http://www.thomasbarrjr.com 
Author Blog: http://www.thomasbarrjr.com/367815247 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.j.barr.5 
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ThomasBarrJr Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31179667-thomas-barr-jr

 

postheadericon Book Blast: Summer Fire: Love When It’s Hot – Contemporary Romance Boxed Set

 

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About The Boxed Set
Summer Fire
 
Title:  Summer Fire: Love When It’s Hot (Boxed Set)
Author: Gennita Low, Stacey Mosteller, R.J. Lewis. L. Wilder, Victoria Danann, Kym Grosso, Cat Miller, Mimi Barbour, Clarissa Wild, Teresa Gabelman, Linda Barlow, Helen Scott Taylor, Victoria James, Mona Risk, Patrice Wilton, Joan Reeves, Danielle Jamie, Terri Marie, Lorhainne Eckhart, Brandy L. Rivers, Nicole Blanchard
Publisher:  dba 7th House Publishing, Imprint of Andromeda LLC
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
ISBN: 978-1507060469
Format: eBook
Genre: Contemporary Romance
 
Twitter Hashtag: #SUMMERFIRE
Summer Fire 3DCover







Book Description:


21 ALL NEW contemporary romance stories by New York Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling authors.
 

Limited Time Only!


Love when it’s hot? So do we.
Especially when we’re writing about gritty alphas, angsty bad boys, sizzling attraction, and unrequited passion. Turn the fan to oscillate, loosen your buttons,  and join us for this groundbreaking bundle of summer tales that are hot hot hot.
1. Gennita Low - Sizzle

2. Stacey Mosteller – Just One Summer

3. R.J. Lewis - Sinful
4. L. Wilder - Summer Storm

5. Victoria Danann – A Season in Gemini

6. Kym Grosso - Solstice Burn
7. Cat Miller – Sun Burnt
8. Mimi Barbour – Big Girls Don’t Cry
9. Clarissa Wild - Killer
10. Teresa Gabelman - Rodeo Romance
11. Helen Scott Taylor - Irish Kisses

12. Victoria James – Sweet Surrender

13. Mona Risk - Husband for a Week

14. Patrice Wilton – A Man for Hire
15. Linda Barlow - My Mile-High Mistake
16. Joan Reeves – Heat Lightning
17. Danielle Jamie – Tan Lines and Salty Kisses
18. Terri Marie - Someone Exactly Like You
19. Lorhainne Eckhart – His Promise
20. Brandy L Rivers - Summer Rhythm
21. Nicole Blanchard - Anchor

Preorder Book at: 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Fire-Love-When-Its-ebook/dp/B00U1DZH7C/

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id968862231 

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/summer-fire-gennita-low/1121243540?ean=2940151700993&itm=1&usri=summer+fire

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/summer-fire?utm_source=linkshare_us&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=linkshare_us&siteID=je6NUbpObpQ-ZQoj0Q4emX.qbDRDn3INNQ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25026469-summer-fire?ac=1

 

***

 

FACEBOOK 4-DAY RELEASE EVENT PAGE
May 24 – 27, 2015
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***
 
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postheadericon Book Blast: A Young Girl’s Testimony: From Disastrous To Evangelist by Shana Joseph

A Young Girl's Testimony

Title: A Young Girl’s Testimony: From Disastrous To Evangelist

Author: Shana Joseph

Publisher:   Xulon Press

Pubication Date: September 23, 2013

Format: Paperback – 110 pages / eBook

ISBN: 978-1628396867

Genre: Christian / Non Fiction / Autobiography
Book Description:

In this book is a powerful message that rises out of a true-life story woven in sadness, heartache, pain, joy and God working miracles. You will see lessons learned, wisdom gained, and experiences to share. It’s revealing unforgettable moments all in unforgettable testimonies.
Book Excerpt: 

From Page 30:

At the age of fourteen I got tattoos and some piercings.  People always said that I was a beautiful girl.  However, when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see what they saw at all.  When I looked in the mirror, I only saw my painful past and my mother.  I saw people I hurt and someone I hated.  I saw a disastrous person looking back at me.  I got a piercing in my eyebrow and two on the right side of my nose because I thought if I changed how I looked on the outside, then maybe I would like myself.  I had to deal with people labeling me as a conceited person because all they saw was a pretty girl with a nice complexion who had long hair, and who all the boys liked.  I never saw any of that.  Maybe if I did, I wouldn’t have gotten into so many fights and had my long hair pulled and I would’ve been full of myself.  Maybe I wouldn’t have the marks on my face from fights or the bite mark left on my shoulder from a girl whose head I was banging on a car window while fighting her.  I was never into myself because I always thought I was a worthless person.  I thought I would always be a street prisoner, is what I called it.  Would you believe a pretty girl like me pointed a gun at someone and sold drugs for a while? Well, I did.  At times I thought I would end up like my mother.
Purchase Book: 



Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Young-Girls-Testimony-Disastrous-Evangelist/dp/1628396865/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427229008&sr=1-1&keywords=A+young+girls+testimony%2C+Shana+Joseph 

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-young-girls-testimony-from-disastrous-to-evangelist-shana-joseph/1116970037?ean=2940148424079&itm=1&usri=a+young+girl%27s+testimony+shana+joseph

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18604658-a-young-girl-s-testimony-from-disastrous-to-evangelist?ac=1

 

 

 

About The Author

 

Shana Joseph

Shana Joseph is a young, anointed Evangelist who preaches the undiluted word of God without fear. Surrending her life to the Lord at age 16, she has been preaching for many years and has a passion for the young people, as well as those who have yet to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior. Shepherded and molded under the leadership of Bishop Dr. K.D. Collins, founding vessel of The Harvest Army Church International, headquarted in the Bronx, New York, Shana has grown from an ordinary Christian to a powerful warrior for Jesus.

Shana is happily married to her husband, Stephan Joseph and together they have three children, Marland, Giovonni, and Vanise.

Contact Shana at:

Website: http://www.shanajoseph.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shanajosephministries
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7309438.Shana_Joseph

Contest Giveaway

 

Pump Up Your Book and Author Shana Joseph are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive the prize.
  • This giveaway begins April 1 and ends on May 30, 2015.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on June 1, 2015.
  • Winner has 72 hours to reply.
  • VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

Good luck everyone!

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A Young Girl's Testimony

postheadericon Getting It Right Book Blast

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Literarily Speaking is happy to be hosting A.M. Arthur and her GETTING IT RIGHT Book Blast today!

About the Book:

Getting It Right 3Title: Getting It Right (Book one of the Restoration series)
Author: A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)
Pages: 249
Genre: Contemporary Romance / M/M
Format: Kindle/Nook

For a dramatic male/male read, look no further than Getting It Right by A.M. Arthur. This contemporary romance is full of heart-wrenching moments guaranteed to draw you in and leave you wanting more.

Detective Nathan Wolf might just be a junior detective, but he tackles every case with the passion that he lacks in his personal life. A series of failed relationships with women has left him still single at thirty-four–because he’s too scared to admit to his longtime crush on his best friend James.

Dr. James Taggert likes to keep his profession as a psychiatrist separate from his party-animal persona. Known around the gay clubs as Tag, he’s the guy who screws them, leaves them, and never looks back. But James’s drinking is getting heavier, and when bad memories from the past resurface, he’s close to becoming the worst version of himself.

After a drunken blackout ends in a hot and heavy make-out session with his very straight best friend, James has no memory of the steamy affair. But Nathan isn’t sorry for the kisses that James can’t remember. Nathan finally musters the courage to tell James how he really feels, but a life-altering event might force them apart before they can ever be together.

For More Information

Book Excerpt:

He smoked his way through two more cigarettes before Nathan’s beat-up Ram pickup pulled alongside the curb. For a city cop, he was still adorably country. Nathan leaned across the console to shove open the passenger side door, and James gratefully slid inside. The simple, familiar presence of Nathan nearby made James’s nerves unfurl a little bit more. Nathan was the one thing in James’s life that had always made sense. Had always been easy.

Weariness settled into his bones, turning his drunken daze into extreme fatigue. He wanted to pass out and soon.

Nathan shoved a bottle of water at him, then eased the truck back into the street. He cracked both of the front windows, probably because James reeked of smoke. Nathan had never been shy about telling him how gross his habit was. Nathan was also smart enough not to engage in conversation until they were shuffling up the short sidewalk to Nathan’s half of a two-story duplex. Nathan slung an arm around James’s waist, and the heat of the other man’s body so close felt amazing. Real. Not like the fake closeness of dancing with strangers in a crowded bar.

He finally got a good look at his friend as Nathan crossed the narrow living room to the kitchen in the rear. Flannel pajama pants and a spring coat. James had woken him up.

Yeah, I’m a douche bag.

“You hungry?” Nathan shouted from the kitchen.

“No.” In the familiar, somewhat cluttered warmth of Nathan’s home, he had a safe place to wallow in the shame still burning in his gut.

Nathan’s place was the definition of a straight bachelor’s pad—which worked since Nathan was a straight bachelor. Dark leather furniture right out of a magazine’s page, decorated exactly the same because he couldn’t be bothered. A monster, sixty-inch flat screen mounted on the wall over an entertainment console boasted two gaming systems, alongside a Blu-ray player and hundreds of movies. Only a handful of photos hung on the wall, mostly of his rather large extended family that lived in southern Delaware.

James paused to stare at a familiar photo of himself with Nathan, taken right after Nathan had graduated from the police academy. They were both grinning, arms slung around each other’s shoulder. Nathan so handsome in his uniform, James in a gray suit that hadn’t been stylish in a decade. Because that’s how long it had been. Nathan had made detective last year, so he didn’t wear his uniform anymore. James sort of missed it.

Nathan came back into the living room sans coat, a white wifebeater showing off his muscled arms and flat stomach. He was one-eighth Nanticoke Indian on his mother’s side, which gave his skin a lovely golden hue. His short hair was shiny black, and was always soft on the rare occasion James had a reason to touch it. His dark brown eyes often seemed to be smiling at him, even when things were serious, like right now.

He was carrying a bamboo tray loaded down with two shot glasses, a bottle of Kentucky bourbon and a bag of barbecue potato chips. He settled the tray on his magazine-covered coffee table, then poured them each a shot.

James sank onto the couch next to Nathan and accepted the glass. After a silent toast, he threw it back. The harsh, smoky liquid burned its way into his stomach.

Nathan refilled both glasses. “Does your mom know?”

About the Author:

No stranger to the writing world, A.M. Arthur has been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long. She credits an early fascination with male friendships and “bromance” (and “The Young Riders”) with her later discovery of and subsequent affair with m/m romance stories. When not writing, she can be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

For More Information

postheadericon A Bookish Conversation with ‘Loss Angeles’ Mathieu Cailler

Mathieu CaillerMathieu Cailler is a writer of prose and poetry. His work has been widely published in national and international literary journals. Before becoming a full-time writer, Cailler was an elementary school teacher in inner-city Los Angeles. “I came to writing in a rather circuitous way. I always penned jokes for stand-up comedy appearances but later realized it wasn’t just comedy that applealed to me, but all writing.” A graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts, Cailler was awarded the Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction and a Shakespeare Award for Poetry. His chapbook, Clotheslines, was recently published by Red Bird Press. LOSS ANGELES is Cailler’s first full-length book.

For More Information

  • Visit Mathieu Cailler’s website.
  • Connect with Mathieu on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Find out more about Mathieu at Goodreads.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Mathieu! Can you tell us where you are from?

Thank you for having me—happy to be here. I’m from Los Angeles. More specifically, I was born in Long Beach, spent some time in Huntington Park, and am in now in the SouthBay.

Loss Angeles 2Q: How did you come up with your title?

I noticed that all my stories seemed to have loss as a general theme—in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Then, one day, I discovered that I always seemed to root a story in L.A. in some fashion. The rest, well, the brain gives you gifts sometimes.

Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?

Do they say that? I was always told not to… but I agree it is human nature, right? Ha. The cover image was snapped by a dear friend of mine, Chaz Cipolla, atop Butcher Hill, a location where I’ve spent a great deal of time inhaling this city.

Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

I wish I could. But here’s all I got: Loss is the greatest bond we all possess as humans. There isn’t a single person who hasn’t experienced it. I think a reader will enjoy the comfort of this—and come away from Loss Angeles possibly more connected to him or herself.

Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?

No secret messages. Just to remember in the words of Plato—“Be kind, for everyone is fighting a harder battle.”

Q: What was your most favorite story to write and why?

All the stories are dear to me. The characters swam through the folds of my brain for far too long to isolate a single piece.

Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?

I’ve always loved short stories—the immediacy, the fact that every moment counts, and the way they (usually) can be savored in a single sitting.

Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?

Oh, wow. I had an imaginary friend, Patrick, until I was about nine.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Lately, I’ve been fascinated with Iceland.

Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

Night person.

Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

My grandfather loved to write. My father always tells me stories about he would read and write late at night, and that image has always stuck with me.

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

Oh, yes. Still am. Paying attention was—and still is—hard for me. I have the doodles to prove it, too.

Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?

Lakers tickets would be nice, I guess. Courtside, next to Jack Nicholson.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

Thank you very much for taking the time. I hope you enjoy Loss Angeles.

 

postheadericon Saints and Heroes by Andrew Schultz Book Feature!

Saints and Heroes
Title:
 Saints and Heroes

Author: Andrew Schultz

Publisher: iUniverse

Pages: 244

Genre: Action Adventure

Format: Ebook/Paperback

Purchase at AMAZON

This book is about hope, despair and faith. It follows Anselm from his boyhood on the rugged Isle of Iona through a course of study at Glastonbury and ultimately through his long association with King Malcolm Caenmore, a ruthless despot who begins a 300 year dynasty of a united Scotland.

amazon

 

 

Andrew Schultz Teacher, professor and writer, Andrew Schultz lives in Lincoln, Nebraska where he works with wood, walks his dog Seanie and ponders small questions.

postheadericon A Conversation with Joni Parker, author of The Seaward Isle Saga

Joni ParkerJoni Parker was born in Chicago, Illinois, but left the windy city at an early age when her family moved to Japan. Upon return to the United States, her family moved to Phoenix, Arizona where she graduated from Camelback High School and began college. However within months, Joni quit college and joined the Navy where she became a Photographer’s Mate. After 3 years in the Navy, she returned to college and got married. She got a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and an MBA before she returned to the Navy. As a Commissioned Officer, Joni attended the US Army Command and General Staff College, completing a Master of Military Arts and Sciences Degree. She retired from the Navy with over 22 years of service and spent several years traveling the United States in a motorhome with her husband. When he died unexpectedly, Joni returned to work for the federal government in a civil service job. Five years ago, she started writing and retired once more to devote more time to her new passion. She currently lives in Texas.

Her latest fantasy books are The Black Elf of Seaward Isle, Tangled Omens and Blood Mission.

For More Information

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Joni! Can you tell us where you are from?

I live in Texas, but I was born in Chicago. I retired from the U.S. Navy with 22 years of service and spent a lot of time moving around the country. After my husband passed away, I visited my stepdaughter in Texas and she encouraged me to apply for a job where she worked. I got it and retired from it to devote more time to my new passion—writing.

The Seaward Isle Saga AQ: How did you come up with your title?

The Seaward Isle Saga is the name of my trilogy and originates from the name of the island where the three books and bonus story are set. The title of the first book, The Black Elf of Seaward Isle comes from the prophecy of Aqua, the Witch of Winden who predicted that only the Black Elf had the power to kill a wizard. My main character, Alex, has no idea that she would fit the bill, but she vows to kill the wizard who killed her parents and becomes a soldier to learn how.

The title in the second book, Tangled Omens came about when Alex has her fortune read while she’s in the market, but finds it mysteriously entangled with the omen of the pirate spy known as the Horseman.

Blood Mission was named after a ceremonial assignment process used by the Elves when they assign a dangerous mission. They seal it with their blood. In this book, Alex thwarts an assassination attempt on her cousin, Prince Darin of the Water Elves, and he assigns her a Blood Mission to find and kill them.

Finally, I wrote a bonus estory called The Island Game: The Inside Story of Seaward Isle. Olivia Richards is an American free lance journalist who is stranded on the island with her husband. This story documents her survival as well as explains some of the history and unusual features of the island. It was designed to introduce the reader to the island as well as be a teaser for the series.

Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your covers and who designed them?

My publisher, Teresa Kennedy and her husband, Andrew Early, designed them. The backdrop on the cover for The Black Elf of Seaward Isle is the line of storms around Seaward Isle. The island itself isn’t stormy, but storms encircle the island preventing any escape.

The cover for Tangled Omens has the Ace of Clubs, which is one of the cards drawn when Alex gets her fortune read and represents the Black Elf.

Blood Mission’s cover represents the struggle Alex has in finding her quarry, like wandering through a forest.

The cover for The Island Game has journalist Olivia Richard’s wrecked ship as well as an old manual typewriter, which she uses to type out her investigative report.

Q: Can you tell us something about your books that would make me run out and buy it?

As you know, the Elves in Middle Earth left during the Lord of the Rings. What you don’t know is that this was over ten thousand years ago and they were moving to Eledon where Seaward Isle is located.

Q: Are there any messages in your books that you want the reader to know about?

I didn’t intend to write a book with a message, but they pop up anyway. I was always quite insecure when I was younger, but accomplished a lot in life as I grew up. I want other young women to know that they can accomplish anything, like Alex and me.

Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?

In The Black Elf of Seaward Isle, my favorite chapter was 19, The Elfin Blade, which was a challenge among soldiers to obtain a special blade. I had to come up with all the tests that would make sense to a soldier with a touch of something magical. It was great fun and a challenge for me to write.

I chose chapter 15, Confession in Tangled Omens because it included a real surprise as I wrote. My main character, Alex was having a routine discussion with her best friend, Lila who revealed a deep, dark secret that I didn’t know.

In Blood Mission, my favorite chapter was 25, Safe from Dragons. It’s the first time Alex allowed herself to grieve for her parents so it was more emotional than anything I had written before. It also helped me personally as I am still grieving for the loss of my parents and my husband.

Finally, chapter 1 of The Island Game was my favorite because I didn’t have any chapters in it when I wrote it. This story came together quickly and flowed from beginning to end. My editor/publisher chopped it up and after I saw what she did, it made sense. I still love the opening line.

Q: Why did you feel you had to write this series?

The story was taking over my brain and started to interfere with my life. I needed to write it down so I took an old computer and began typing away. It was such a relief when I was done.

Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?

I dye my hair to hide all the silver highlights. It irritates my older sister when people ask if I’m her daughter.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I would love to visit Ireland. It just seems like a magical place.

Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

I am definitely a morning person. I wake up around 5:30 every morning without an alarm.

Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

My sister had dreams of writing, but never finished her book. She doesn’t like to rewrite. On the other hand, I love to rewrite and I often feel an extra spark of creativity come through after the basics are already on paper.

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

Yes, I was and still am. I think you can tell from my books that I dream on. As a matter of fact, it’s how I develop many of my stories, and I use my bed as my think tank when I get bogged down.

Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?

I’d love to have a best seller.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

You can visit my website is http://www.theblackelf.com. Like my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJoniParker. Follow me on twitter @ParkerJoni.

 

 

postheadericon Book Spotlight: Super Steve by Doug Cudmore

Super Steve
TitleSuper Steve 
Author: Doug Cudmore
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: January 5, 2015
Pages: 328
ISBN: 978-0993993527
Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller
Format: eBook ( ePub / .mobi – Kindle), Paperback
Book Description:
 
It starts like just another in long string of Friday nights: Steve Janson again fools himself into thinking he’ll go for a stress-busting, head-clearing run, only to end up at the local Sav-N-Lo picking up a pack of Doritos. But when he ends up bleeding on the floor after a robbery gone wrong, and a mysterious stranger saves his life, he finds himself living every man’s dream. Or is that nightmare? In either case, he’s a superhero.
The darkly comic Super Steve asks: what if a regular person suddenly found himself stronger, faster, smarter than his fellow mortals? If nothing else (and, increasingly, there is nothing else), Steve is that average man, someone who clings to his sense of stand-up-guyness. He still puts in the overtime, even as the desks around him empty at the soon-to-be-extinct Metroburgh Green Pages. He makes sure his deeply pregnant wife and his baby-to-be live comfortably, even as his mountain of debt grows Himalayan. Sure, being the calm face that keeps everything alright gnaws at his slowly expanding gut some days, but it’s nothing a couple of MetroLagers can’t numb.
And at first, saving school busses and pulling kittens from trees suits Steve perfectly. But as crime grips the city – an agitated former Occupier freeing the people’s money; a disgruntled ex-geologist with a knife to grind; a military man determined to keep the streets safe, no matter how unsafe they get in the process –the demands grow unbearable. As Steve’s wife grows suspicious of his late-night activities, as his boss threatens his job if the absenteeism doesn’t end, as his finances spin out of control after a gadget-buying spree, he is forced to ask himself: Must he sacrifice Steve Janson to be a hero? Or does he have to sacrifice the city in order to live with himself?

Book Excerpt:

 

You would even, on your own time, write a report, “How the Green Pages can cash in on geographic technology,” which had been sitting for three months in Bryce’s office.

You would be a man trapped on a small, sandy career island that was eroding away; your only options would be dive into the ocean and hope there was another, larger island somewhere just past the horizon. Or to stay and hope the waves stopped rising. And you were the type to grab a palm tree and pray.

You’d work away at your desk this Friday, save for a sneak next door for a foot-long Tuna Supreme from Senor Sub, with a Coke and Doritos to aid the gentle expansion of your midsection. And finally, after the last AAAA Auto Service ad was laid down, you’d take the commute in reverse, back to your semi-slice of heaven.

Key in the door.

Yes, if you did that, you’d be deep, deep inside the brain of Steve Janson.

Once you turned that key and opened that door, though, you could try Steve’s heart. Because, like usual, you’d see Sally Janson sitting at your little dinner table. She would be sipping a diet iced tea and battling an iPad Sudoku in her pale green scrubs, but as you crossed the threshold she’d get up to meet you in your home’s tiny entryway. She would have had one hell of a day – hauling the kicking person inside her was enough for any woman in this late-summer heat, but she, god bless her, would have found the time to hit Target, grab another carful of unidentified baby gear for you to assemble, and then, as her feet swelled, would have got groceries and done the dishes. And still, when you arrived, she’d rock herself up, walk over and give that kiss. You’d kiss her back and ask, “How was your day?”, smell the clean of her sandy brown hair and, lately, feel the growing bulge of her six-month belly as she pressed against you. Then you’d gulp down the night’s meal together before it was time for her night shift as a paediatrics nurse at Metroburgh West General. You’d give her another good, solid kiss goodbye, not just lips this time, and she would head out the door.

If you took in those 60 minutes, plus the off-nights together and holidays as they came, you’d get inside the heart of Steve Janson.

Then you’d be back on your own until 6:30 crashed down again.

But if you wanted to get into Steve’s lower intestine, gall bladder and fist-sized chunk of the liver, you’d need to be that bullet.

Steve Janson would have the idea – actually Sally Janson would have the idea, which she would repeat so often that it became Steve’s idea, as well – that he was going to be around for a long, long time, if not for himself then for her and your son or daughter. And so, to battle his days of inactivity broken by short bursts of glucose and cheese, Steve would have to exercise.

That early-August Friday at 9:16 p.m., Steve would slam his home’s ill-fitting front door and perform a quick succession of knee bends and hamstring stretches. He would feel fresh, strong – he liked the idea, if not the practice, of late-night summertime runs – so he would take the three porch stairs in one leap, tune into Songza and take the first, too-fast strides of the evening. “The Sign” would blast through the headphones; Sally had left the playlist set on “Early ‘90s Bubblegum”. He would stop, scroll quickly to something more masculine before his ears were hooked, but by the time he found “Jock Anthems”, Ace of Base would have taken over. He’d head down the block to “Life is demanding/without understanding.”

After the first four dozen power strides, Steve’s body would, per usual, start to despise him, a hatred that only grew for the first 10 minutes of each work-out. One of two things always happened after he warmed up: Either he would be ready to push, and his legs would kick, his heart would settle into its familiar pace and the world would float by; or he would not, at which point a pallid film would form across his forehead, his legs would sputter, and he would use the emergency $5 in his pocket to hunt for snacks.

No matter how brilliant he felt at the start, option two was the almost guaranteed winner on Friday nights, leaving him searching for something salty at the local Sav-N-Lo.

That would be the scenario tonight. He would walk through automatic sliding doors, and the sweat he’d worked up would evaporate as the heat was replaced by perfume-laced mid-sized-box air. Steve would walk down Aisle 4, Oral Care and Shaving Supplies, until he reached the pharmacist’s counter at the back. He’d turn right, passing a thick-bearded man with an ER’s worth of home medical supplies crammed into his shopping cart. He’d arrive at the snack aisle, pause in front of the Doritos, trying to decide between Cool Ranch and Zesty Cheese.

That is all he’d have to do.

And hollow-point you? You’d have to coil silently in a handgun, tucked inside a windbreaker pocket, hung on the frame of a more drunk than angry young man riding shotgun in a Black 2001 Honda Accord pulling into the Sav-N-Lo parking lot. You and your gun would sit cozy as your owner and his two associates hopped from the car, threw black balaclavas over their heads and strutted through those sliding doors. Then you’d be running and, as you approached the check-outs, you’d be thrust toward the ceiling, shining in the fluorescent light as your owner yelled:

“This is a robbery! Everybody be cool, nobody gets hurt.”

Back at the chips, Steve would freeze, and slow-motion-drop the fiery orange package he’d selected. He’d think, “What the hell am I supposed to do in this situation?”

“Empty your fuckin’ registers, gimme your fuckin’ wallets and purses, ahright? Quick-Quick-QUICK!” your owner’s friend Jack would yell, pulling out canvas bags and tossing them on the treadmills of the two storefront checkouts. “Get with the fuckin’ program!” The panicked clutch of customers nearby, and the two dowdy checkout ladies in their pale blue Sav-N-Lo pinnies, would start to comply.

Then some woman, a decade past middle age, with large round bifocals and shining burgundy hair, the one clutching an InStyle, would not get with the fuckin’ program. She would defiantly refuse to release her floral-print handbag. There were pictures of loved ones in there. They weren’t going anywhere.

So Jack – and his temper – would whip out a pistol and get involved.

“I said give me your purse, bitch. Your purse,” he’d yell.

“No, please, no, please. My grandkids … ”

“Give me your fuckin’ ” and his pistol would make solid, fleshy contact with her skull. “I said give me your purse, bitch.” Jack would laugh, stoop over her unconscious body, grab the handbag, toss it in his sack.

As the woman lay on the floor, your owner would aim you down for a second. The plan was, as had been discussed at length during the drive here, that the guns were for show. Taking out old ladies was not part of the plan. But your owner couldn’t argue niceties when the shit was going down.

Burgundy Hair’s friend Henrietta would start to scream, looking at the small pool of blood, but – “Shut the fuck up!” – her screams would turn to panicked whimpers. “Anybody else get any ideas, this is what we got for y’all. Now give us our money!”

The loot bags would fill up, from the tills and the pockets of those standing nearby. And then you and your gun would wave at the onlookers, make sure no one got close as your owner and his other accomplice, the non-angry one who was high as hell and just there for the laughs, backed toward the exit. But that pistolwhipping would have riled Jack up. He would be an aisle into the store now, well within sight of the still-frozen Steve, yelling and demanding more money.

And Jack would have the car keys.

“What the fuck you lookin’ at, old dude?” he would yell at the homeless man. Jack would smash the shopping cart over, sending gauze, syringes, ibuprofen everywhere; a roll of medical tape would scoot past Steve’s running shoes. “I said what. The fuck. You lookin’ at. Old dude.”

The homeless man would stand straighter, taller, and calmly ask, “What are you doing?”

“What did you say, motherfucker?”

“I said what are you doing? Coming in here, terrorizing people? Do you know how violence ends, my good man? Do you? Because it doesn’t end well.” Then the old man would grab a clutch of bills from inside his jacket pocket, toss them at Lou. “There, sir, is your money.”

Jack would stand speechless for a half-second. He’d flinch toward the old man with his gun, stop, move to pick up the scattered tens and twenties at his feet. But just as quickly his anger would trump his greed, and he’d slam the butt of his gun into the side of another head. “Fuck you,” he’d yell, as blood splayed off the temple of the old man, who crumpled to his knees. “Fuck you.” And the robber would raise his pistol for one last smack.

But before he would connect

Steve would bolt. If you asked him later, he wouldn’t be able to tell you why, exactly, against three armed men. But he sprinted to his right, in an impossible attempt to save a life.

And this is where you would shoot into action.

Your owner would have almost backed out the front door by now, on his way to freedom, hoping his damn accomplice inside would be out in the 60 seconds left before the police likely arrived. But then he would see some guy, 5’10” or so, black hair and running gear that only drew attention to his small mound of belly, bursting toward your associate. And your trigger would be pulled.

And you’d be flying through the air, spinning at a speed imperceptible to the jaw-dropped cashiers. You’d shoot past the magazine covers (People had “Teen Moms of Denver star shares exclusive baby pics”; the Star went with “Darren left me: Teen Mom Post-Partum Heartache”); past the Archie Double Digests; past the salted and unsalted nuts; you’d pass down the aisle, burst into the back of a package of Classic Lays, shatter through dozens of greasy chips, and at almost the same instant explode through the front of the yellow bag.

And then you’d be inside the lower intestine, gall bladder and a baseball-sized chunk of the liver of Steve Janson.

That’s how you’d do it.

And, as you lay there, torn to shrapnel, you’d hear “Oh fuck, oh fuck bro” and the sound of sneakers running, and the rev of the black Accord disappearing into the Metroburgh night.

Steve would grab his bleeding belly and, through the thick haze of shock, would rasp the words to nobody nearby: “Tell Sally I love her.” And he would start to feel the warmth of the death’s arrival.

Then the crazy old man would right his toppled cart, his smooth hands would hoist the fading Steve Janson into its basket, and the two of them, and you, would sprint into the darkness of the Sav-N-Lo Mart parking lot.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

As the squeal of tires and the flash of headlights shoved him back into consciousness, Steve bolted upright.

He grabbed for his shredded belly, to stanch the deadly flow of blood, to reach in, search for the bullet, dig it out. But he couldn’t free his hands; they were pinned to his body, tightly wound in something. He couldn’t tell.

As his mind battled to make sense of the situation, his eyes struggled into focus. Everything was black, save one piercing white light overhead. Its glow flipped left to right as Steve rocked in a bid to free his arms and stop the life from pouring from his gunshot wound.

In the kind of few seconds that seem like forever, he worked both arms free and shot his hands to the bullet hole just above his navel. His fingers prepared to grope intestine and organ; instead, they hit skin. Soft, nacho-fed, lightly haired skin. His digits looked for that fatal gap that must be somewhere … there … on his torso … up … left … right … but found nothing unusual except for a thin, inch-long cut just below his bottom left rib.

He was certain he had just been shot. Or fairly sure, though he now lacked evidence. Maybe that was just something that had entered his heat-stroked brain after too many wind sprints … no. He didn’t do those anymore. And he was bound, by something, left in the dark. If that much had happened, he had likely been shot. Probably. He concluded that, if he didn’t want to get probably shot or bound again, he’d need to get out of here.

He GASPed another big hit of air – the oxygen blended with sinus-pinching taste of anaesthetic and a rusty hint of blood, making him nauseous even as it cleared his brain. He gasped again – each one tasted better – and looked at that light. Its glow turned from formless orb to floating ball to the familiar form of Metroburgh municipal streetlight. Steve followed its pole to the ground – his stare caught onto a string of decorative porch lights as they disappeared down a street in the background – and to the black ground below.

So there was a streetlight here, he thought. What else? His eyes couldn’t make that out yet, and his legs didn’t have the strength to explore.

So instead, his eyes teamed with his fingers to determine the identity of the restraint: A simple cotton sheet, soft, warming but industrially rough, like you’d find on a low-rent hospital bed, light yellow with pink and white stripes across the top. It had been swaddled around his torso and upper legs; it still bound his calves tight. It felt fresh, clean, except for the part that had once been around his belly but now drooped to the side. That was crusted with something dark, like a giant scab. Blood? His fingernails scraped; he brought a sample up to his nose. Yes, blood. Dried. A lot. Steve’s brain panicked again and his hand shot back to his belly; no, still just soft pink flesh and tiny cut.

And then Steve’s brain provided a fresh reason for concern – why was his hand hitting skin? Why not the sweat-wicking runwear Sally bought him last birthday? He looked quickly down, making his head swim again; once he recovered, he got an eyeful of his full, naked self, upper thigh straight on up. He grabbed the folds of blanket off the bench and covered his shame.

So now his panic had a thick overlay of creepy. Steve’s mind shot back through the last few items in his memory. Running. Snack food. Yelling. Gunshot. No “getting naked” on the list. Dear god, what had he, or somebody, done in the interim, he wondered.

As he wrapped the blanket folds around him, ensuring all important bits were covered, Steve forced himself to concentrate. He was shot. Or not. But most likely. Just not wounded. But wrapped. In something bloody. And he was naked. Where? Horizontal brown boards. A bench a park most likely. He looked to the horizon again and objects finally started to clarify … the sturdy steel A of a swingset… a couple of baby swings hanging down … a big red corkscrew slide … by his bare feet, which he now determined were sitting on sand, a broken pink Fisher-Price play kitchen, stacked high with filthy toy pots and pans, buckets and shovels … a worn yellow Tonka truck … a couple of Frisbees that had been converted into digging devices.

Steve knew this spot. Bryan W. McCain, Sr. Urban Play Parkette, tucked away two blocks from his semi. He was close to home. Thank god. Still, he was in a playground. At night. Naked. Except, of course, for a blanket covered in dry blood.

“C’mon, give me another pull, asshole.”

“Calm down, man … … … alright, here you go.”

“Ah, that’s the shit. Got this from some hopped-up Moldovan dude downtown, bro.”

Steve jumped to his feet, momentarily dropping his blanket. The mumbled conversation of two hoodied just-past-teens hit his ears; it sounded as though they were right next to him. He swung his stuttering gaze 360 degrees, until he spotted them approaching; they were still a good quarter-block away, though, passing under the last streetlight before the parkette. Their smoke wafted up, hung in the humidity.

Steve made himself an impromptu diaper, bunching the blanket around his groin, and darted for the hedge at the parkette’s south end. He crouched between its evergreen prickles and the seven-foot security fence behind, tied the blanket in place. Then he crouched further, into a ball, and waited.

Lucas Stumph, just off his shift at GasMart, and his cousin Nick DeBergh, not currently working nor interested in the concept, slouched into the parkette and dropped onto the bench Steve had occupied just seconds ago. They enjoyed a nice, long joint and the inane conversation that it brought – cars they’d never drive, lingerie models they’d never screw. After five minutes, Nick, his 259 pounds living on the border between husky and obese, was taking one long last pull when something caught his eye.

The park light glimmered off a big, light yellow form behind the bushes.

Nick nudged Lucas, whose sallow cheeks and sunken eyes gave an outpatient impression, nearly knocking him onto the ground. “Bro,” he said, pointing, “What is that?”

“What?”

“Behind the bushes, bro.” Nick got up, pulled down the bottom of his Area 51 t-shirt so his belly was covered. “Check it out. Looks like … a dude in a diaper!”

“Oh fuck, yeah,” Lucas said, laughing a deep, ganja-laced laugh. “Hey Diaper Dude!” he called. “What’s in the bushes?”

Steve could now see he was hardly hidden. He was cornered, though; the two men stood between him and the parkette’s gate, and as they strolled toward him his escape route was slowly, stumblingly cut off.

“Hey, Diaper Dude!” Nick called, delighted at his discovery. “What you doin’ in there, man?”

“Yeah, uh, hey guys,” Steve responded with an understated wave. “How’s it going?”

“Hey.” Lucas was curious. “Are you one of those dudes who dresses up like a baby and have some chick change your diaper?”

“Yeah, you a perv?”

“Hey, it’s nothing like that —”

But Lucas’s face turned angry. “Yeah, what the fuck, bro. Doesn’t your niece play at this park?”

The two not-quite-teens now walked more quickly toward Steve’s failed hideout. “Yeah, fuck, dude, Brytney plays here all the time. Hey, get the fuck out here, pervy Diaper Dude!” Nick demanded.

Steve stood, put his hands out to the side in a plea. “Look guys, I –” But there was no point in trying to reason. Lucas ran the last 10 steps left between himself and Steve, pulling out a small pocket knife as he did and saying, “Let’s fuck this dude up.”

Steve was out of options; couldn’t reason, couldn’t run, couldn’t do much damage against a loser with knife. But in the last millisecond before his torso took its second blow of the night, an electric surge shot through Steve’s legs, while another hit his brain. And he jumped, up, back and, with unknown energy exploding from his quads, he cleared the fence behind him with room to spare, just as the knife sliced the space where he had stood a half-second before.

Steve came down in the ankle-deep sod of the unkempt backyard behind the fence and, in disbelief, stared Lucas in the eye, this time with the safety of a seven-foot sheet of metal diamonds between them. “What the fuck?” Lucas said.

And just as fast as he’d cleared the fence, Steve came to his senses, turned, ran. He needed to get home, back to safety, he couldn’t take the streets and risk the neighbours spotting him. But with this bizarre new strength coursing through his legs, apparently allowing him to clear fences in single leaps, he could take the back route. So he sprinted across the first, dark, 24-foot-wide back yard and hurdled with ease over the five-foot privacy fence at the other side. Stuck the landing. Good, he thought, now there were two fences between himself and the stoners. He could take time to gather his thoughts. Until the motion-sensor light snapped on and the Chihuahua in the rear window began a piercing yip.

Steve hurled himself over the next fence, again with ease, but this time crashed down on an above-ground pool; the sound of his body hitting the water was loud enough, but coupled with the clatter of the now-collapsing structure, and the whoosh as gallons of water poured into the yard, it was enough to stir more neighbours. Backyard lights flicked on almost instantly up and down the block; any second now, annoyed homeowners would come out with their dogs or cats or baseball bats.

As Steve cut through the rushing water, he realized he just needed to cross one more yard and he would hit the back alley that dissected his block, leading straight to his backyard. As the demolished-pool owner slid his screen door open, Steve cleared another fence. And again he stuck the landing, onto an upturned rake.

“Hey!” yelled the pool owner as Steve disappeared.

“What?” yelled the owner of the final yard, who was sitting on his candlelit deck, enjoying a glass of chilled Cabernet with his wife’s best friend.

“Ahh!” yelled the wife’s best friend.

And “Damn it,” yelled Steve as two rake prongs shot into his bare right foot. He leapt over the last fence with such force that he topped it with five feet to spare, and, with the alley on the other side being blessedly empty, he turned right, toward home, and broke into sprint, a dead sprint, faster than he’d ever sprinted before. Then it occurred to him that his bleeding right foot would leave a track leading to his own backyard. So he broke into a hop, a dead hop, faster than he’d ever hopped before, to the safety of his own gate.

As he arrived at the back of his house, Steve realized his key was exactly wherever his running clothes now resided. So he picked up a fist-sized rock from Sally’s decorative garden and, as quietly as possible, punched it through a glass pane on his door. He reached through the resulting hole, slicing the side of his hand in the process, and turned the knob from the inside. Then he pushed the door open and allowed himself the sweet, agony-filled relief of a collapse on his kitchen’s cold tile floor. He lay there for 10 minutes at least, panting and seething with the sharp pains in his foot and hand, and flinching, convinced he’d be caught, as he heard a smatter of neighbours searching the alleyway.

But they never came knocking. And so, when his will returned, Steve sat up to survey his damaged body, slid over to the cupboards and pulled out tea towels, wrapping them around his wounds. After a minute or two of applying pressure, he staggered to his feet and, leaning on the faux-marble countertop, tried to think of what he could possibly do next. As he looked around the room, trying to settle on a course of action, he noticed the voicemail light flashing on the kitchen phone; he grabbed the cordless receiver, thinking maybe an answer resided there, in the receiver.

The robot voice told him he had four. Unheard. Messages.

#1 was Sally. “Hey, hon. Just heard from downstairs that some guy was shot at the Sav-N-Lo. I know you were being a good boy and running, but give me a call back at the desk, okay?”

#2 was Sally, a touch more panicked. “Hon, just thought I’d hear back from you by now. Guess you’ve gone for a long one. Good for you. Call back, okay?”

#3 was Sally, really scared. “Steve, please call, okay? Someone just said they heard some runner might have got hurt, but they didn’t bring anyone in. Why don’t you take your stupid phone with you? Call me right now, okay?”

#4 was Sally, on the edge of tears, five minutes ago. “Steve, I’m really scared, okay? I was asking around now, no-one knows anything … call me, okay? C-” Steve deleted the last message before it played out and dialled the maternity ward.

He stood, the rumpled sheet half-clinging to his waistline, and stared at the wreck of himself in the mirror above the kitchen sink. As the rings progressed, so did this thought process – from “Poor Sally” to “Maybe she’ll know someone who can help me” to “What am I going to tell her? That I woke up naked in a park and just ran through our neighbours’ yards?”

“Metroburgh West Maternity.” A too-familiar nurse spoke on the other end of the line.

“Could I speak to Sally Janson, please.”

“Steve?”

“Yes, hi Martina.”

“Oh, thank god. Sally’s worried sick,” his wife’s best work friend replied with her usual agitation. “She was just heading home to check on you, I’ll see if I can catch her.” The line clicked, then filled with Latin-tinged classical guitar.

Steve waited, watching his reflection as the flamenco magic filled his right ear, and discovered the line he had felt on his abdomen just minutes ago was gone.

“Honey! Steve, is that you?”

“Yes, hon-” and he noted, just above the non-cutline, a scrap of paper, safetypinned to the top of the blanket near the top of his left thigh, something he’d missed in the madness of the night.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine –” on the paper, the hand-scrawled message read “Call me. 701-565-7232.” 701 … North Dakota.

Sally buzzed in the background. “Oh, I was so worried. Where were you?” she accused with just-relieved terror. “I called and called. The police said that some runner had been shot, and you never answered the phone, and I …”

North Dakota. A disappearing wound. Naked in a park, a children’s park, with him blacked out and maybe eyewitnesses, to something or anything …

“… but they never found anyone, and I thought maybe you’d just crawled off somewhere, and …” sobs.

Steve wasn’t a lying man, at least not with the people that counted. Once the lies started in a relationship, they never stopped, he’d learned from a rather nasty college girlfriend. But there wasn’t another choice right now. He just needed a small one; he’d figure a way back to the truth later on.

“Oh hon, I’m sorry. I am so sorry. I just bailed on the run and crashed upstairs. I must have slept through all your calls. Really, are you okay?”

“Yes,” she said in a smaller voice now. “Don’t ever do that again. Okay? You sleep with a phone on the pillow.”

“I promise.”

“Oh god, I’m so embarrassed,” she said, wiping a mix of tears and eyeliner from her cheek with the back of her hand.

“Don’t be, hon. Do you need me to come over? Get you a decaf?”

“No, no. Really, don’t come down here. I just need to get back to work. Be up when I get home, okay?”

“You got it. Love you.”

“Love you, too. And keep that phone on your pillow. Asshole.” Vulgarity meant the fear was gone.

“And pancakes for when you get home.”

They hung up.

“How you doin’, honey?” Martina asked.

“Fine, really,” Sally replied, grabbing a tissue from the nursing station. “I feel so silly.”

“Don’t, Sal. He needs to grow up and treat you right.”

“Oh, he’s just a man,” Sally replied. She let out a sigh and forced herself to her feet, headed out for a night of towelling down birthing mothers and soothing birthing fathers.

And Steve looked back at himself. God, he would need a better story by the end of Sally’s shift. First, he’d have to explain the wounds … speaking of which, the pain was gone now, all praise endorphins. He unwrapped the tea towel from his hand – not only was the pain gone, the gash was, too. He unwrapped the towel from his foot. No rake holes, either.

His shot, skewered, sliced body was fine. Not just fine. Perfect. He glanced around the kitchen to make sure the wounds had been real, that this wasn’t just a hallucination formed by the leftover vapours of whatever had left him unconscious. But there were still the bloody towels, the bloody sheet, the broken window. Those were real. And, if he was going to keep Sally from asking any more questions, he would have to dispose of them.

But before the sweaty, blood-crusted blanket was trashbagged, he unpinned the note, walked the strange message upstairs, slipped into his pyjamas, and tucked it amidst the nail clippers and spare change and unread novels in his bedside table.

And he pulled it out for one last look. 701. North Dakota. Add that to the top of the night’s pile of what-the-hells.

About The Author

Douglas Cudmore
 
Doug Cudmore is a veteran journalist who has worked in business, entertainment, and urban affairs and crime. He is also a long-time comic-book lover.
You can visit his web site at www.dougcudmore.com

Connect with Doug:

Author Website: www.dougcudmore.com 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/douglas.cudmore

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/super_stevej

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13163484.Doug_Cudmore

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postheadericon The Actor by Douglas Gardham Book Feature

The Actor Banner

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Title:
 The Actor

Author: Douglas Gardham

Publisher: iUniverse

Pages: 352

Genre: Fiction

Format: Ebook

Purchase at AMAZON

It is 1991 when Ethan Jones finally wins the role of his dreams in an upcoming, big screen movie. With the envelope holding the script clutched in his hand, he arrives at his California apartment where he can hardly wait to tell his girlfriend the exciting news. But when he finds the door unexpectedly ajar, he has no idea that in just a few seconds, the life he has fought so hard to obtain will be shattered.

Eight years earlier, Ethan is attending university in Ottawa, Canada. One evening after seriously contemplating suicide, he finds his way into a club where he meets Mila Monahan, a beautiful acting student who saves him from himself. After he watches Mila rehearse a university play, Ethan catches the acting bug and decides to pursue his own creative passions, causing a collision with his more secure ideals. But when Mila suddenly disappears, Ethan vows he will never stop chasing the dream she inspired in him, believing in a world entirely different from the one he is living in.

The Actor is a gripping tale of a young man’s unforgettable journey of self-discovery in overcoming the trauma of a personal tragedy. It is a story of love, hardship, persistence and overwhelming joy where The Actor learns he can portray anything he can imagine.

amazon

 

Douglas Gardham is a writer who loves music, movies, and books. He lives near Toronto, Canada, with his wife and dog. This is his first published novel.

postheadericon Interview with Scott Richard Lord, author of ‘The Logic Bomb’

Scott Richard LordScott R. Lord has been a highly successful criminal and civil trial lawyer for 35 years and is active in the practice of law with the law firm of Cohen & Lord, a P.C., located in the CenturyCity area of Los Angeles. Scott is a devoted student of Italian language and literature. He is the father and step-father of six children and lives with his wife and children in Santa Monica, California.

His latest book is the thriller, The Logic Bomb.

For More Information

About the Book:

The Logic Bomb 3Title: The Logic Bomb
Author: Scott Richard Lord
Publisher: The Logic Bomb
Pages: 264
Genre: Thriller
Format: Hardcover/Paperback/Kindle

Fiction collides with fact with frightening prescience in Scott Lord’s ripped-from-the-headlines techno-thriller, THE LOGIC BOMB.

In his exciting debut as a novelist, Lord, a practicing lawyer, mixes shady financial deals, organized crime, and the real-life threat of cyber warfare into an unlikely but always entertaining blend of high drama and comedy.

Scott Turow, author of the bestselling legal thriller PRESUMED INNOCENT, hails Lord as “a terrific writer. Read THE LOGIC BOMB.”

Kirkus Reviews praises THE LOGIC BOMB as “rife with tense scenes dominated by gleefully unpredictable characters.”

Lord’s hero, Tom Tresh, is a Los Angeles lawyer living on an aging sailboat while struggling to support his seven-year-old son and an ex-wife. When a friend offers him a “huge payday” if he helps with a shady deal to sell a complex but seemingly harmless computer program to a Hong Kong company, Tresh finds himself in a firestorm of intrigue, because the program is actually a powerful cyber weapon, capable of infiltrating and destroying computer systems.

Lord cites former National Security Advisor Richard A. Clarke’s 2010 book, “Cyber War,” as one of the chief inspirations for writing THE LOGIC BOMB. Lord explains that a logic bomb is a type of cyber weapon, a “virtual explosive,” that can infiltrate various systems and wreck them.

So-called “logic bombs” actually exist, says Lord, and, according to the best authorities, are already planted in U.S. software programs that run our financial, transportation, utility and – scariest of all – defense systems.

(Clarke’s book) “describes in great detail the types of cyber attacks which we are all becoming familiar with,” Lord explains. “I decided that one of the cyber weapons he describes, a logic bomb, would be an excellent `MacGuffin’ for my story. Now cyberwar is filling the news. Little did I know!”

For More Information

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Scott! Can you tell us where you are from?  

I was born in Chicago. My family moved to Los Angeles when I was 8. I grew up in the town of Canoga Park in the San Fernando Valley.

Q: How did you come up with your title?

When I was researching cyber war and weapons for the book, I stumbled across the name of a type of cyber weapon known as a logic bomb. I liked the sound of it.

Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?

The cover was designed by the graphics folks at my publisher, Friesen Press. I had gone through a couple of different covers with other designers that I liked but didn’t love. But the second I saw this one, I knew it was right for my book.

Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

It’s fun! I wrote the kind of book that I would like to read: characters you can identify with, fast-moving, laced with high-stakes danger, and a few detours for a change of pace. And if this carries any weight with you, Scott Turow, one of my legal fiction heroes, was kind enough to give me a quote to use in my book promotion: “Scott Lord is a terrific writer. Read The Logic Bomb.”

Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?

Not at all, I’m not that deep. But seriously, The Logic Bomb points out what we are all learning more and more these days: Most of our computers and systems are incredibly vulnerable to criminals and terrorists.

Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?

My favorite character, other than the main character, Tom, is Skip Williams.   Skip is the homicidal head of a powerful gang. Skip is based on a very scary but very real crook I represented many years ago. Late in the book, I write a chapter about his background and how he became who he is.

Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?

During my career as a trial lawyer, I met so many interesting people and learned so many great stories, it was always a dream of mine to write a novel using some of those people, places, and stories.

Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?

I like to think of myself as a tough, savvy lawyer as well as a thoughtful intellectual reader with sophisticated tastes. Yet years ago, I became hooked on the romance novels of Judith Krantz, you know, Scruples, Princess Daisy, Mistral’s Daughter – I loved all of them. Please don’t tell anyone.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

India, China, and Tibet. I keep putting off going because I don’t want to do a short tour, I want to spend months.

Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

I am definitely a morning person. That is the time I do my best writing.

Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

Yes, I have four brothers, three of whom write music, including lyrics.

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

Oh my gosh, yes. I was a voracious reader as a kid and would imagine myself so intensely in the world of the books I read that I would experience a great sadness when I had to return to the so-called real world.

Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?

While of course I should say health and happiness for those I love, my wish would be to know exactly what happens to us after we die.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

To anyone who reads my book, I would so appreciate it if you would please take a minute or two to email me and et me know what you think of it. Thank you!

 

 

postheadericon Eight Writers Who Most Inspired Me by Seth Mullins, author of The Edge of the Known Trilogy

Eight Writers Who Most Inspired Me

 

The writers who most inspired me offered a sort of spiritual comfort that I couldn’t find anywhere else. Their creations shone a light on creative processes that ran deeper even than the craft of writing itself.

What, exactly, is an artistic vision? How does one cultivate it? And how does one learn to live with it? These luminaries all provided valuable pieces to the existential puzzle.

Stephen R. Donaldson wove tales that might be occurring on some alternate world or might be happening within the world that we call the ‘real’. Discovering “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant”, at age eleven, I knew what I had to do with my life.

Jack Kerouac captures the essence of living moments as well as anyone who has ever written. I continually strive for that kind of immediacy in my own work.

Charles Bukowski taught me the power of transparency. Writers are often encouraged to ‘trust their first thoughts’. Bukowski had the guts to follow through and set those thoughts down on the page. I received many lessons in courage from him.

Jane Roberts introduced me to ‘Seth’ – and my perception of reality was richer and more meaningful forever thereafter. The potency and wisdom of these words speaks for itself – addressing the deeper, more discerning part of ourselves that knows. 

Arthur Rimbaud taught me that language has a secret power that’s not dependent upon its logical meaning; magic is real, and words can be an effective way of evoking it. Some of his poems read like waking dreams.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote with a kind of vivid, piercing eloquence that his imitators were never able to match. Courage, loyalty, laughter in the face of uncertainty, belief in the human spirit in the face of war and chaos… these are eternal themes, as his continued popularity proves.

Robert E. Howard introduced me to the world of gritty pulp fiction a la Weird Tales – fiction that immerses you in an intense narrative wherein very little is taboo. I’ve read my own prose aloud, to ensure that I’ve got the ‘voice’ right, ever since seeing Howard (portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio) doing so in “The Whole Wide World”.

Frank Herbert - Somewhere during my teens, Herbert demonstrated to me that philosophy and mysticism can be most strongly conveyed through the medium of an absorbing story. This has been a living part of my internal blueprint ever since.

 

Title: What Casts the Shadow

Author: Seth Mullins

Pages: 240

Genre: Metaphysical

Format: Paperback/Kindle

A troubled young rock musician, a mystic mentor, and a generation of lost souls longing for a new voice to emerge from the wilderness…

When an altercation outside of a performance venue nearly proves fatal, Brandon Chane begins to realize how far his life is spinning out of control. His efforts to channel his pain, frustration and thwarted loves into his music may not suffice to save him. Then he meets Saul, a crisis counselor with the soul of an ancient medicine man, and a far-reaching journey of healing – one that may teach him how to steer away from the very edge of the abyss – begins.

For More Information:

What Casts the Shadow is available at Amazon.
Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.

Title: Trust in the Unseen

Author: Seth Mullins

Pages: 234

Genre: Metaphysical

Format: Paperback/Kindle

“We’d all thrown our fates to the wind, trusting in the unknown – in the Unseen, as our EP so proudly proclaimed – and that leap had thus far landed us in a place where we couldn’t even grope our way forward in the dark anymore.”

Brandon Chane was beginning to realize that discovering his voice was only the first step of the journey. Now he must somehow learn to trust the depths from which it comes, and the unknown horizons that it may sweep him away to, even as every part of his personal world seems to be falling apart.

For More Information:
Trust in the Unseen is available at Amazon.

Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.

Humanity's Way ForwardTitle: Humanity’s Way Forward

Author: Seth Mullins

Pages: 246

Genre: Metaphysical

Format: Paperback/Kindle

“The echoes of those scars can clearly be heard in Edge of the Known’s music. But one can also discern, quite distinctly, that other inexplicable thing that is within us all, the undying flame that transcends our wounds and sufferings…” Brandon Chane had always seen life through the eyes of an outcast, a misfit, a young man at odds with the world and with himself. Now they’re calling him a wounded healer; a shamanic Pied Piper for the throngs of alienated youth; a thief of fire. He wonders if he and his band can escape the claims that the world has suddenly laid upon them. But what about the cherished dream that he’s struggled so desperately to fulfill, the dream that finally seems to be coming to fruition?”

For More Information:

Humanity’s Way Forward is available at Amazon.

Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.

Seth Mullins first conceived of his dream to write novels in his early teens, and this one desire has stayed with him throughout all the other myriad twists and turns of life. His inspirations include methods of inner exploration such as dream-work and shamanism and his experiences as a songwriter and performing musician. He studied creative writing at Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico and Lane Community College in Oregon.

Seth has lived in Connecticut, New Mexico, Oregon and (currently) Vermont.

For More Information

Visit Seth’s website.
Connect with Seth on Twitter.

postheadericon A Conversation with Elisabeth Amaral, author of Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup

Elizabeth AmaralA native New Yorker, I have lived in the city for much of my life. My first jobs after graduating from NYU were jewelry design and case worker for the Departments of Welfare of New York City and Cambridge, Massachusetts. This was followed by co-ownership of a children’s boutique (Czar Nicholas and the Toad) and a restaurant (Duck Soup) in Cambridge near Harvard Square. I then worked as an industrial purchasing agent in New Jersey, and for the last 25 years have been a real estate broker in Manhattan, accumulating stories of the wonder and madness that is this city. I published a book of short stories (When Any Kind of Love Will Do), wrote two children’s books and a memoir (Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup), and am currently working on a novel.

For More Information

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Elisabeth! Can you tell us where you are from?

I’m a native New Yorker, born in Brooklyn.

Q: How did you come up with your title?

Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup are the names of the three businesses that I describe in the book. The whimsical Czar Nicholas 2sound of the title reflects some of the innocence, fun and excitement of the mid 1960s and 70s. Czar Nicholas was the name of my earring business in Boston and Cambridge. The Toad was the name of a small craft store on Franklin Street in Cambridge. Czar Nicholas and the Toad was the children’s boutique between Harvard and Porter Squares that we opened together based on instant friendship. Duck Soup was the restaurant opened by my first husband and me, in Harvard Square, which wouldn’t have happened had there not been a snow storm.

Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?

The cover is a photograph of my then ten-month-old son and me, on Second Avenue in the EastVillage, in New York City. It was taken by my ex-husband. My memoir was almost finished when he sent it to me, and I immediately knew that it would be the cover.

Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup is a true story of the search for sexual identity that many can relate to. It’s funny, adventurous, heartbreaking, and real. I put my soul into it, and the spirit of those times shines through on every page. Also, there are great photographs and recipes, as well as memories contributed by people you may or may not know.

Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?

Stay true to yourself no matter how difficult it is, and don’t give up.

Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?

It’s a tie between the first chapter and the last. After completing the first, I knew I was on my way. The sense of accomplishment and pride with the last chapter was overwhelming. But for fun, the Wedding chapter, near the beginning, because the occasion was unusually amusing.

Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?

These are treasured memories I wanted to preserve for myself, my family, and for readers who could benefit and enjoy it. I also knew that many men and women lived my situation in secret or in ignorance. It shouldn’t be.

Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?

I’ve shared them all. They’re in the book. But if I had to share one right now, I stood naked in El Yunque, the Puerto Rican rain forest. That was shortly before I spent the night in a nearby chicken coop.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Istanbul, for the intrigue.

Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

Morning.

Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

I don’t know if they like it, but most of them are excellent writers, with several of them quite gifted.

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

I was and I am.

Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?

To live long and prosper.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

Yes. I appreciate the opportunity to describe my book. Thank you.

postheadericon Book Spotlight: The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery by Paul Flower

Paul Flower
Paul Flower is an author, advertising copywriter/creative director and a journalist.He has written and produced award-winning advertising for print, radio, television, outdoor, the Web––really, just about every medium––for business-to-consumer and business-to-business accounts.His news features have appeared in regional and national magazines. His first novel, “The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery,” was published in June 2013 by Scribe Publishing. Visit Paul’s website at paulflower.net.

Connect with Paul:

Author Website: paulflower.net 

Author Page / Publisher Website: http://scribe-publishing.com/brain/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paulflower.writer 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/flowerpaul

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7137509.Paul_Flower 

About The Book
The Redeeeming Power of Brain Surgery

TitleThe Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery: A Suspense Novel 

Author: Paul Flower

Publisher: Scribe Publishing Company

Publication Date: June 1, 2013

Pages: 250

ISBN: 978-0985956271

Genre: Susepense

Format: Paperback, eBook (.mobi / Kindle), PDF

 

 

Book Description:

 

Jesse Tieter, M.D. has carefully constructed the ideal life. But lately, neither his Chicago-based neurology practice nor his wife and son are enough to suppress the memories that have haunted him since he was a little boy. He can’t stop thinking about that summer day in 1967 when his father died.

So Jesse is heading back. Back to the town and the place where a long-repressed horror occurred. Back to make sure his twin keeps the family’s secret buried.

But what will he uncover along the way?

 

 

Book Excerpt:


His son’s hand felt like a lie. Lately, to him,
everything felt this way. The look of sadness on his wife’s face, the burn of a
drink in his throat, the whine of a saw in the O.R.; nothing seemed true. Nothing
was real anymore. He felt out of balance, too. Even now, the school building,
the flag slapping against the heavy fall sky¬¬—everything was tipping away from
him. It was as though he’d gotten up that morning and screwed on his head
carelessly, as though he hadn’t threaded it good and tight. While shaving, he’d
cut himself, a discrete, semi-intentional knick just under the curve of his
chin. He’d stood there like an idiot, eyes feeding the message “blood” to his
brain, nerve endings responding with “pain” and the logic center unable to
formulate a response.
 
“Dad? Daddy?”
 
“Uh? Wha’?”
 
“Pick up the pace. Chop chop. Move out.”
 
Now, as he snaked through the crush of other
parents and children, he had to look down to convince himself the boy was
there, attached to the hand, flesh and bone. The red hair, “his mother’s hair”
everyone called it, was sliced by a crisp white part; his head bounced in beat
with his sneakered feet. The child was so painfully real he couldn’t be a lie.
 
It amazed him that his son looked so much like his
wife, especially the tiny mouth, the way it was set in a crooked, determined
line. He was a kid who liked to have fun, but he could be fierce. Today, the
challenge of a new school year, of third grade, had brought out the determined
streak. This was good. They would need that streak, he and his mother would.
 
“Whoa.”  The
tiny hand now was a road sign, white-pink flesh facing him, commanding him. Far
enough. He obeyed. Squatting, arms out for the anticipated embrace, he suddenly
wanted to tell everything. Tears swam. His throat thickened. The earth tilted
and threatened to send him skittering over its edge. There was the slightest of
hugs, the brush of lips on his cheek then the boy was off, skipping toward the
steps as though third grade challenged nothing, caused no fear, as though the
world was in perfect balance.
 
He walked back to his Lincoln Navigator with the
exaggerated care of a drunk who didn’t want anyone to know his condition. He
got behind the wheel and suddenly was no longer in his 50s; he felt 16 and too
small, too skinny and insignificant to handle the giant SUV.
 
He nosed the vehicle toward home, alternately
trembling and gripping the wheel as he merged with the morning traffic. The
plan struck him now as odd and silly, the challenges too great. His hands,
already red and scaly, itched fiercely. Get a grip, he told himself. Get a
grip.
 
His tired mind—when was the last time he’d really
slept well?—jumped from one stone of thought to another. Was everything covered
at work? The bills—had he paid them all? Did his wife suspect anything? Yes.
No. Absolutely. Of course not. Relax. Relax. He left the expressway at the exit
that took him past their church and wondered if the church, too, was a lie.
What of the wedding there so many years ago?
 
Through a stoplight and past a Dunkin’ Donuts, his
gaze floated around a corner. A flash of inspiration—hit the gas. Let the tires
slide and the back-end arc around. Let physics have its way until the big
vehicle broke free from the grip of gravity and danced head over end, coming to
a stop with him bleeding and mercifully, gratefully dead inside.
 
No. He had something to do. Had he figured the
angles right? Gotten the plan tight enough?
 
A horn jabbed through his reverie. He had drifted
into the turn lane of the five-lane street. He jerked the wheel and cut across
traffic into the right lane. Tires screeched, horns screamed. A black Toyota
streaked past on his left, the driver’s fist, middle finger erect, thrust out
the window.
 
Rage, sharp and bitter, bubbled in his throat. He
hesitated, then jammed his foot on the accelerator, cut the wheel hard, and
sent the Navigator careening into the left lane.
 
A staccato barrage of profanity pounded the inside
of his skull. He bit his tongue to keep the words in. His heart hammered and a
familiar, dizzying pressure filled his ears. The SUV roared ahead, past one
car, past a semi then another car, quickly closing the gap on the speeding
Toyota. He couldn’t see the car’s driver but he could imagine him, some stupid,
simple-minded schmuck, eyes locked on the rear-view mirror as the lumbering
Lincoln grew larger, larger, larger. The instant before he would slam into the
smaller vehicle, he jabbed his brake and turned again to the left. There was a squeal
of tires and more horns bleating behind him; the semi rig’s air horn bellowed
angrily past. Ramrod straight, eyes fixed ahead on the now-slow-moving car
disappearing tentatively around a curve, he brought the Navigator to a
shuddering stop in the center lane. He tensed and waited for the resounding
WHUMP of a crash from behind. None came. Face flushed and eyes gleaming,
suddenly rejuvenated, he accelerated quickly then eased the Navigator back into
the flow of traffic—no looking back.

 

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The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery

postheadericon First Chapter Reveal: The Art and Science of Healing by Dr. Mark J. Rogers/Nike Azoros

The Art & Science of Healing 3Title: The Art and Science of Healing – with Light
Author: Dr. Mark J. Rogers with Nike Azoros
Publisher: Dr. Mark J. Rogers with Nike Azoros
Pages: 442
Genre: Medical
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Chronic pain has reached epidemic proportions but it is not a disease. Chronic pain is a genuine physical problem and its epidemic is being spread by the very treatments the doctors are prescribing. Over thirty percent of patients across the world present with back, neck, or head pain, the majority of whom are in chronic pain, but all doctors offer is a prescription for painkillers and a referral for intensive physical therapy. The patients never improve, in fact they get worse. Instead of receiving empathy and understanding they are often accused of being dishonest about the severity of their pain. Some are even sent for psychotherapy. ‘The Art and Science of Healing – with Light’ breaks that vicious cycle. Within it is explained to patients how they developed chronic pain in the first place and how to begin to heal their migraines, back pain, neck pain, tinnitus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and all forms of chronic pain in general.

Doctor Mark Rogers bases the healing process on his 7 Principles of Healing Chronic Pain. His methods are all based in science, are common sense, pain free, drug free, have no painful exercises, and no ‘mind over matter’ meditations for coping because the problem is not in the mind of the patients, it is in their bodies at a deep cellular level. The 7 Principles have a conservative efficacy of eighty-five percent. As long as the Principles are followed the patient will heal. It is the medical system that is keeping patients in pain through ignoring the origin of the pain. Pain is not a mystery, it is not a disease, it means you are being hurt. Chronic pain means you are still being hurt. Written in a clear easy to read style with minimal medical jargon it is designed for patients to finally give them understand what happened to them and gain control over their healing processes so they can start healing today.

For More Information

  • The Art and Science of Healing – with Light is available at Amazon.
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First Chapter:

‘It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it – the life of that man is one long sin against mankind’

W.K. Clifford, “The Ethics of Belief” Contemporary review 1877

‘…make a habit of two things: to help; or at least, to Do No Harm.’

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, 460 BC – 377 BC

Chronic pain has reached epidemic proportions but it is not a disease. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have a disease called Pain. Pain is always a symptom of another problem. Pain means you are being hurt. Chronic pain indicates you are continuing to be being hurt.

Acute and Chronic Pain

Whenever we feel pain our brain knows that something dangerous is happening and it needs to take protective action. When pain persists our brain activates our bodies systems to take the necessary steps to protect us. The overly active nervous systems cause large amounts of signals to be sent to the brain sending us into a state of hyper-vigilance, which is why the chronic pain patient becomes jumpy and has great difficulty falling asleep.

The patient is not only in pain but is tired in the extreme yet what the doctors see is that the pain is persisting when the injury should have well and truly healed. On the outside the body will indeed appear normal, scans and X-rays show nothing. The actual problem is at a deep cellular level but in the absence of any obvious reason for the persistent pain the complaints of the patient are often dismissed. The patient is offered medication for pain relief and told to exercise and have physical therapies.

When these don’t work, as in the vast majority of cases, the response from the doctor is to do more of the same. Chronic pain patients are placed on endless repetitions of ineffective treatment, yet their condition worsens. Instead of questioning the treatment it is the patient who is viewed with doubt, their very sanity is questioned and often psychotherapy is prescribed.

It is not your imagination. Your pain is real. It is the way the medical system repeatedly enforces harmful actions upon your body that keeps your pain alive. Pain is produced to protect us but the longer we feel it the more our brain and body systems become locked into a sensitised state. The 7 Principles outline in detail why and how this happens and how to reverse it so the brain and body can gradually de-activate the protective processes and instead activate the processes of healing.

Acute pain is often defined as sharp pain with a duration of less than 3 months, while chronic pain has a duration of longer than 3 months. When we take into account the belief that pain relates directly to tissue health and most tissue injuries resolve within 2-3 months, it has always been felt that any associated pain should also resolve in that same time.

Acute pain by its sharp, hurtful nature motivates us to take protective actions that will keep us from re-injury and help our tissues heal. One of these actions is the inbuilt withdrawal reflex that makes us recoil automatically away from any source of pain, identical to when you pull back your hand from a flame so as not to get burnt.

In chronic pain your withdrawal reflex has been overridden because of the constant state of stress in the body reinforcing the hypersensitive responses of our bodies systems which make certain adjustments to help us manage. These limit recovery, and they are caused by the standard recommended treatments prescribed by your own doctor yet pain patients are told they are beyond help and that they must now learn to live with the pain.

Not anymore. The 7 Principles will guide you through making re-adjustments which will faster activate healing.

My Personal Experience with Chronic Pain and How I Healed.

I had been suffering migraines since I was 8 years old. I also had ringing in my ears, known as tinnitus, and ongoing neck and lower back pain.

I had 8 successful medical clinics across Australia, and was aiming to have many more. It wasn’t because I was a dedicated doctor, it was because I was driven and determined to be successful. It would take me years to understand the direct connection that these attitudes, common to doctors, have on the way we treat patients in pain. The instant I understood the connection that behaviour changed but up until then it was all I knew.

I’m the son of a Medico. He was very successful, well respected, and my role model, but he was rarely home because he had to stay at work until he had seen his daily requisite of one hundred paying patients. That was the number he needed to see in order to maintain his doctor’s lifestyle, and it was how most doctors operated, by numbers, not by patient outcome. When I got together with other doctors all we talked about was how many patients we saw in a day, not how many we had healed. The noble dictum of Hippocrates, ‘Do No Harm’ was never discussed, it was ancient history.

Looking after those eight clinics and all that entailed, my young family, and trying to keep up a lifestyle while having regular migraines was debilitating. The tinnitus was driving me crazy and I was plagued by the back and neck pains.

When I was at medical school my neurology professors had no answers either. They all knew my father and that he was also a migraine sufferer so they said it must be genetic. Another suggestion was that there was something wrong with my brain.

For the more than thirty percent of my patients who also had at least one of the same problems the best I could do was to offer some sympathy as I handed over a prescription or sent them down the hall to the in-house physiotherapist of the clinic. The struggle with my own pain meant I often needed to race back into my room for a quick lie down before seeing the next patient. It was a vicious cycle. I couldn’t help my patients and I couldn’t help myself.

One morning I awoke with a painful stiff neck, commonly known as wryneck. As if the pain of that wasn’t bad enough on the way to work I could feel I was developing a migraine. My day was booked solid but being the newly graduated doctor I felt it was important to stay at work. The physiotherapist noticed my condition and beckoned me over. He didn’t know anything about me nor did he ask any questions other than if I had woken up that way.

Before I knew it with one aggressive action he had wrenched my neck. The misguided application of brute force was really the performance of a classic ‘magic trick’. My chronically inflamed pain nerve fibers had been shocked into submission thereby inhibiting the constant pain-inducing muscle contractions. At the time it seemed like an instant cure. I didn’t know it was only a temporary state.

I felt orgasmic relief. I let out a sigh of satisfaction and was able to get back to work and finish the day. For a few hours I thought he was a genius but the next day I couldn’t get out of bed – or the next day. The pain was so bad there was no way I could go into work. When I went back to see him again it was not for any further treatment but to confront him about his methods. I will never forget what he told me. He said,

‘If I had told you what I was about to do, you wouldn’t have let me do it.’ He knew that it was harmful, and he did it anyway. He also knew it was innately wrong to me personally, and to all humans. To protect our own necks at all costs is inherently ingrained within our natural hardwiring for the survival of our species. It is pure lunacy to allow another human being to freely attack our neck. I learnt from a horrified friend that he is still doing it as therapy to his paying patients.

He had put temporary severe pressure on the nerves and I got the equivalent release that acupuncture provides. What I now know, and what medical school never taught me, is that he had just made the pain nerves go numb only to stir later, angrier than before.

His dangerous ‘therapy’ increased the severity and frequency of my migraines. He took me from significantly injured to broken. It changed me from having frequent terrible headaches to suffering every day. I had been blithely sending off my pain patients to have twice weekly physiotherapy when I had no understanding of the consequences. I believe that in general the vast majority of medicos refer pain sufferers for such physical manipulations because they haven’t witnessed what is inflicted upon the unsuspecting.

I was twenty-six years old when I had that shocking physiotherapy experience. From then on, for the next nine years, my migraines became a daily hell that made me feel like chopping off my head.

The incident happened in my first clinic, in it, and in every clinic I opened after that, I always provided plenty of space for the physiotherapists. I mindlessly went along with the medical practice of sending pain patients to physio because it meant more income for the clinic.

It was all about the money, but it was done guilt free as nothing was taught in medical school of how to manage back pain. It was conventional medical wisdom that the physiotherapist was the appropriately trained health professional for treating pain. For the next 20 years I was reminded again and again that I was never to question the establishment, they knew best. In my mind I thought I was looking after the patients and the business, I would send those pain wracked patients down the hall to get manipulated and put into traction and was proud of it.

In 1997 the meteoric growth of my clinics was halted when the government changed the rules of how clinics could engage doctors. My multiple clinics suddenly didn’t have enough doctors and profits were negatively affected, as was everything else, from my relationships to my health. My response to it all was to keep up appearances and I did that by working harder, which in turn put more strain on my relationships and health. I couldn’t seem to get away from those vicious cycles, and a new problem arose – depression.

In Principle 3. Reduce the Inflammation I will explain how depression is one of the consequences of inflammation, but of course I didn’t know it then. I didn’t seek any help and looking back it was probably just as well. If I had followed standard procedures I would have been sent for psychotherapy and been told it’s all in my mind, or taken anti-depressants. No one knew or would have even believed that depression is very real repercussion of the spread of inflammation from unhealed injuries.

My father would say, ‘bite off as much you can chew and then work out how to swallow it’, so I did. The trouble was I had bitten off so much I was choking. I worked harder and harder, borrowed more money and then worked even harder. And my migraines were murderous. It never occurred to me to slow down or simplify anything, I was one of the many who thought that maintaining the aura of prestige was of the utmost importance.

NASA came to town

Everything changed when I was introduced to the Science of Light, phototherapy. Like most doctors I receive invitations to attend seminars and conferences, only a few of which it is possible to accept because of work, and frankly the ones to more glamorous locations get priority so as to make it feel like a vacation as well.

One such invitation was to attend a presentation by two scientists. It meant a trip interstate to a suburb of Sydney called Castle Hill. If it had been located within the city of Sydney with its beautiful harbour and exciting buzz I might have given it some thought but being stuck in a suburb had no appeal. It barely seemed worth my time so I declined, I was far too busy. The organisers had targeted me as a potential major customer because of my eight not so booming clinics. They called to ask me to reconsider and I declined again, but they persisted. I finally accepted more for the weekend away than out of any real interest in some science presentation.

It was on LASER. I knew nothing about laser therapy when I got that invitation. I knew there was a lot happening in the medical field with lasers being used in surgery, dentistry, dermatology, optical, and even the beauty industry. I couldn’t see how lasers could assist general practice patients. Back then I was just like any other general practitioner, I was unquestioning of the conventional mainstream methods but I went prepared to listen with an open mind; thankfully.

It was July 1998 when I attended that seminar given by Professor Edmund Wong and Dr Garrett Lee. They had travelled from the U.S.A to educate interested health professionals in the pain relieving benefits of Low Level Laser Therapy, (LLLT) also known as cold laser therapy.

It was at NASA that Dr Garrett Lee was introduced to laser. He worked as a cardiologist monitoring the astronauts upon their return from space missions and was involved in finding ways to help them recover more quickly from the altering effects of being in space. Zero gravity wreaks havoc on the body. When the astronauts return to Earth they temporarily cannot walk due to severe muscle atrophy. They suffer daily from nausea, are full of lymphedema, and they are in pain. The astronauts recover eventually but there is significant danger of permanent damage occurring until they do. Faster healing was needed.

Lee, while part of the NASA team, witnessed it was chronic swelling, lymphedema, causing the pain and that laser light was very effective in its reduction. The astronauts were surrounded with infrared cold lasers and the pain went away. As a result lasers were built into the space suits to prevent the no gravity lymphedema. This was over thirty-five years ago. Lee introduced Wong to laser who spent the next twenty years applying LLLT to chronic pain patients.

Edmund Wong was a professor of dentistry originally from Beijing but residing in Hawaii for over twenty-five years. He was an expert in head and neck pain, which included migraine, temporal mandibular joint disorder (TMJ), jaw clenching, and teeth grinding.

It was all interesting stuff and the science of it all was fascinating but it was of no use to me – until he said they used laser to alleviate the pain of migraine. Suddenly they had my full attention. The simple words spoken next instantly shed light upon the mystery of chronic pain.

‘An injury starts it all.’ A physical injury of any form, from a fall to a sporting accident, dental procedures, even an over-stretch could cause microscopic and/or macroscopic tears in the soft tissue. The injury for some reason has never healed so the body does what it is designed to do in such cases, it keeps on producing pain. They also emphasised that bad posture aggravated the injury, which in turn aggravated the pain.

Everything I had just heard presented as a scientific finding was also sheer common sense that every doctor knew about, yet somehow through the machinations of modern medicine it had become uncommon sense.

Throughout the presentation they explained the pure science of cold laser therapy. Albert Einstein laid the foundations of laser in his Nobel Prize winning discovery of the law of photoelectric effect. Atoms of light can be stimulated to emit photon energy in a steady beam of radiation. That’s what LASER means, Light Amplification Stimulated Emission of Radiation. There were many more Nobel Prizes won along the way as scientists worked on the law and brought LASER to fruition and enhanced its uses.

Cold laser causes accelerated recovery of injuries through the phenomenon of photobiomodulation. The light that is synthesized by the LASER device is cool to the touch, it does not cut or burn but its light penetrates into the cells just deep enough to reach the mitochondria, the energy producers within our cells. This triggers a cascade of processes that results in the acceleration of the healing of wounds through cell and tissue repair. Every word they spoke of light was true and undeniable.

I knew light was used in healing because that is how we treat babies for jaundice. Infrared ray lamps became highly popular for a while and proved to assist in healing but a few people placed them too close to the body, closer than the recommended greater than twenty-three centimetres distance. Some nasty burns were incurred so it was broadcast on television that it was dangerous.

Instead of making the minor adjustment of keeping it greater than twenty-three centimetres from the body an inexpensive and effective healing tool that recreates the laws of nature was rejected. In its place the patient in pain is given a prescription for drugs, or is sent for physical therapies.

Light is therapy. Over one hundred and fifty years ago Florence Nightingale, the brilliant nursing pioneer also known as The Lady with the Lamp, knew that the patients nearest the windows got better faster than the ones in the dark corners.

It’s been known for many decades that the human body transforms light into electrochemical energy. We need light to function, a bit like a plant with photosynthesis. All doctors know that light is essential to activate the chain of reactions within the cells that stimulate metabolism and the immune response. In spite of that knowledge mainstream medicine has so far chosen to ignore the power of cold laser therapy to heal, which is like declaring science to be impotent and even shambolic. The science of light is obedient to the laws of physics, which are the laws of Nature. It is eternal. It is irrefutable.

And so it was science, not medicine that provided me the answer to what is the source of chronic pain; an injury in the soft tissue of the body that was never allowed to heal properly.

The presentation progressed into a demonstration. Patients were wheeled in. Everyone in the audience was some form of health professional so we could all tell that these patients were clearly in pain. We looked on as cold laser therapy was applied to each patient and each one was soon able to stand up and walk with ease.

There was no evangelical zeal that we had witnessed a miracle. There was no whooping for joy, and no Hallelujahs. It was just a calm and logical explanation that the light had relaxed the muscles, stimulated the cells and reduced the lymphedema, which meant pain free movement. If applied over longer periods the results would be permanent.

I quickly stuck my hand up and said,

‘I suffer migraines can you do anything for me?’ They used me as an example of how to treat a migraine patient by applying the laser to the back of my neck.

‘But the pain is in my head.’

‘No’, they replied.

‘You think it’s in your head but the pain has spread to the surrounding scalp, from the swelling in your neck.’

I dwelt on that statement as I enjoyed the laser therapy. It felt good. It was like a massage without the pressure. A wave of euphoria swept through me as my muscles took in the laser light and relaxed. It was the best massage I never had. I could feel my muscles relaxing but I wasn’t being hurt, snapped or cracked. The light was doing all the work.

I was so excited about this life changing medical discovery that when I left for home it was with the laser kit tucked tightly under my arm.

I became my own human experiment. I had some misadventures to say the least but when I applied the laser to a certain spot, at the right hand side of the base of my skull, on the nuchal line, I felt something. The laser light had found the micro tear in my neck. I’d hit a nerve, literally. The nerve of the ice pick man, a term only migraine sufferers can understand, the nerve of sensation, the occipital sensory nerve.

When I hit that spot on the back of my neck the sensation followed the path of pain that I experienced when I had a migraine. It shot up from the back of my neck, over my scalp and up through to the front of my head, to the temple, right in the spot my head throbbed when I had a migraine. It was the moment I defined migraine as being not a head or brain problem but a musculoskeletal problem. My head flopped back and I let out an involuntary sigh of relief.

As with neuralgia of sciatica, the ligament sends nerve pain down through the sensory nerve of the leg, migraine behaves the same way. It was an epiphany. Migraine is neuralgia of the scalp. I would later patent the process of finding that sweet spot to provide evidence of diagnosis, something that had not happened before in history. When that spot is found and treated all of the muscles relax, the entire jigsaw of the superficial posterior movers, from the forehead to the toes. I was experiencing full release of body tension, and it felt wonderful.

Lady Diana

Before cold laser therapy cured me of migraines I always walked stooped over. My head would be bent down low as if I was ducking for cover. I kept my head in its ducked down position as if I was tucking in my chin.

I had often noticed photographs of the late Diana, Princess of Wales because I knew she was a migraine sufferer too. Every time I saw a photograph of her on some magazine cover I noted her stooped over posture and the angle of her head, it was like mine. Our profiles were the same. Originally it had earned her the famous moniker of ‘Shy Di’ but as her fame increased it made her look coy, other times it made her look provocative. Being a fellow migraine sufferer, I knew she was in pain.

After I had the muscle release experience from the laser I caught sight of myself in the mirror and stopped stock-still for what seemed like an age but was probably a milli-second. Thoughts of Diana’s profile rushed into my head. I sped to the computer and began searching for photographs of her. As soon as they came up it was obvious. Our profiles weren’t the same anymore. I had straightened up.

I rubbed my forehead as I thought on the seed that Doctor Wong had planted, that it all starts with an injury. In some cases it could have happened so long ago that it has been forgotten. My fingers brushed along the scar above my left eye triggering the memory of the accident I had when I was 6 years old. I was at a playground playing a chasing game with another boy. I was right behind him running fast to catch him. He pushed a swing out of his way as he ran away from me, causing it to swing up high.

Its metal corner struck me in the face as it swung back down. The force made me fall backwards and smash the back of my head onto the ground. The blood streaming from my face was what got all the attention. The trauma to my head got none. I was taken to hospital for stitches and for a while there was a real fear that I might lose my eye. Another quick search online on Diana revealed that she had fallen off her horse and hit her head when she was a young girl. On that day, looking at Lady Di, I learnt that if pain from injury alters posture then proper posture must play a role in recovery.

I darted from the computer screen to the mirror to confirm the change. Pain from injury alters posture. It might have been stating the obvious. You don’t need to be a doctor to see when someone is in pain, they walk differently and with difficulty, they sit differently, gingerly, they wince when touched, and they have a sullen look in their eyes.

It is right in front of us but we doctors are not looking at them. We are too busy looking at the screen making sure we are taking enough notes. It doesn’t matter if the patient does not get cured as long as the notes get taken, otherwise we face punishment by the medical board.

Medici, The Art and Science of Healing.

The biggest ‘discovery’ I made in that week after learning about the healing power of LLLT was that the human body is beholden to the laws of physics. It’s how and why we evolved. Science is the study of these natural laws. Physics is Greek for ‘Nature’. Applying these natural laws is the art to which all mankind should strive, especially doctors. When those laws are followed a normal body functions at its peak and is in perfectly good health.

The laws of gravity play a major role in our health. When we have correct posture we are in a state of equilibrium. When we have distorted posture as in the case of a pain patient that equilibrium is disturbed and the result is more pain.

It’s natural, it is science, and medicine is an applied science. The art of it is where the practitioner hones his or her skills in order to apply them for the maximum benefit of the patient. In the case of the pain patient no science is being applied and no art is being honed. No skills are put to use. Instead doctors are blindly following guidelines and protocols that while being profitable to their clinics are causing the patient more harm than good.

Goldman’s Cecil Medicine 2004, puts it perfectly in the next few paragraphs.

‘Medicine is a profession that incorporates science and the scientific method with the art of being a physician. The art of tending to the sick is as old as humanity itself. Even in modern times the art of caring and comforting, guided by millennia of common sense as well as a more recent systematic approach to medical ethics remains the cornerstone of medicine. Without these humanistic qualities, the application of the modern science of medicine is suboptimal, ineffective or even detrimental.’

‘The essential humanistic qualities of caring and comforting can achieve full benefit only if they are coupled with an understanding of how medical science can and should be applied to patients with known or suspected diseases. Without this knowledge, comforting may be inappropriate or misleading, and caring may be ineffective or counterproductive if it inhibits a sick person from obtaining appropriate, scientific medical care.’

‘In the pain patient any therapy must improve the underlying condition not just attempt to suppress the symptoms.’

‘To care for a patient as an individual, the physician must understand the patient as a person. This fundamental precept of doctoring includes an understanding of the patient’s social situation, family issues, financial concerns, and preferences for different types of care and outcomes, ranging from maximum prolongation of life to the relief of pain and suffering. If the physician does not appreciate and address these issues, the science of medicine cannot be applied appropriately, and even the most knowledgeable physician will fail to achieve the desired outcomes.’

Medicine does not apply any of that eloquent logic to chronic pain patients, especially if they are trying to make an insurance claim. Instead they are treated as neurotic, or downright dishonest. Modern medical methods for treating chronic pain contain zero science; and science is the understanding of Nature.

The natural laws that shaped us, that created us, are being ignored in the unnatural way medicine is currently treating pain.

Doctors are not observing patients properly and I had been equally guilty. Medicos have stopped looking at patients as people and only see a symptom to be treated in isolation. That is not medicine that is crisis management.

Another undeniable truth is money directs medical decisions. We are overly influenced by the powerful marketing of pharmaceutical companies and we want all the divisions of our clinics to be profitable so we refer patients on for physical therapy when they should not be having any.

I had long been doing all those things wrong too but once I knew they were wrong I stopped doing them. The accepted ways might have been working well for the doctors but they were not helping the patient. I decided I had to learn other things that are simply not being taught to medical students. I took myself back to medical school.

I went to see the heads of the faculty and told them I wanted to return to study anatomy. Not for the regular classes that all the medical students do, they were nowhere near thorough enough. I wanted to work one on one with their most senior professor. A deal was struck and I paid the hefty fee for the private tuition.

Once that was organised I asked my next question.

‘I think I need to learn biophysics. Please enrol me in those classes?’ They couldn’t help me. There was no class in biophysics anywhere in Australia and at the time of writing there still isn’t.

I was as driven to progress my learning as I had been previously about opening clinics. Laser could help speed up the process of curing chronic pain. My patients needed this.

‘Okay then, please direct me to someone who can teach me everything about cold lasers.’

Again they couldn’t help me. There was no one teaching anything about cold laser in the entire university. I was advised to try the Australian National University (ANU) in our nation’s capital, Canberra. It was over eleven hundred kilometres away and a twelve-hour drive from my home town of Adelaide.

I called the ANU. They had a laser department but it was mostly about surgical or defence lasers. One of the directors was a man so esteemed the ANU named a building after him, the Emeritus Professor of atomic and molecular physics, Erich Weigold. He was not the man to help me. But – I was told his son Adam was, and he had offices in Adelaide.

Adam Weigold PhD, is an atomic and laser physicist who was then working as the Australian distributor for some of the world’s biggest laser companies. I made the appointment to see him.

Whereas my anatomy tutor was the quintessential nutty professor with wild hair, in his senior years and with a narrow focus on his subject, Adam Weigold looked like a male model. He was young, good-looking and had a rare and expert breadth of knowledge on all aspects of laser. An added bonus was we discovered our sisters were good friends, by the end of our first meeting, so were we.

I began to explain to him that cold laser therapy could heal wounds and therefore ease pain. The NASA scientists had done amazing work but I needed to take it further because by their own admission their efficacy was mid-range. I wanted him to teach me more about laser so I could develop an efficient healing method using it and Nature’s laws. I sat back and waited for his reaction. I was afraid he would think I was a nut case.

I asked him, ‘Do you think I’m crazy?’

He looked at me and said,

‘Well Mark, you might be crazy but your ideas aren’t.’

He knew about light healing pain! All physicists did. The scientists were more up to speed than the doctors. Adam didn’t need any convincing that I had learnt something important. He said,

‘Mark, it’s biophysics. It’s not just light we are talking about, it is biology.’ Doctors would never have even thought about biology and physics crossing paths. I never did anyway. Adam said that scientists had been trying to introduce cold laser therapy using infrared light to medicine for the past twenty years. There had been barely any interest at all.

A few physical therapists had given it a try. They had bought tiny, low powered units of 30 milliwatts, the current models are more than ten-fold that at 450 milliwatts, and applied them for two minutes. They might as well have been shining a torch. Because of that uninformed introduction cold laser therapy had been deemed ineffective.

I knew laser light could heal. It had healed me but I didn’t want to be the medico who holds a laser in his hand and points and shoots it like an instant camera. I wanted to know everything. To get the most out of the patient I needed to get the most out of the laser. Adam made it clear that I needed to gain a better understanding of physics before I could learn anything about laser.

He guided me through quantum physics and photons, the source of light and energy. I began to understand how light could heal by the effect it has on the human body.

We cannot live without light, much like plants absorb the energy of the sun to survive, as in photosynthesis, sunlight, or the energy of the laser light. To humans it is just as essential. If the sun were to disappear we would have just a fraction over eight minutes to live. Light truly is a matter of life and death.

For the next six months I spent every morning and lunchtime with Adam going over things like the infrared spectrum, wavelengths and frequencies. Every afternoon was spent with the anatomy professor and me leaning over cadavers as I learned every millimetre of the intricate wonders of the musculoskeletal system of the human body.

Soon I had the grounding of the art of the anatomy of the body and how every ligament, tendon and muscle are all links in a chain, and any chain is only as strong as its weakest link. When there is a problem in one element of the chain before too long the entire chain is compromised.

I am still no expert in biophysics but at least now have enough understanding of its laws to know its role in the health of the human body. Every movement our bodies make follows these laws, such as the law of gravity. Every movement we make follows the laws of gravity. When we work with gravity we move well and get stronger. When we attempt to defy gravity Nature bites.

Days were taken up with study and so were my nights. Every evening I scoured the Internet for anything and everything about laser to make sure the word was spreading. I didn’t care if it wasn’t me spreading it just as long as someone was. I was relieved to find there was some action. In Europe there was a lot of research and application taking place. Laser was definitely doing some good, but not enough. The efficacy, like that of the men from NASA, was averaging out at around forty percent.

Adam and I discussed in detail what we could do to increase its efficacy. Over the next few months we experimented with frequency, power density, wavelength and doses. The laser I needed didn’t exist, so we built one, and then another. We ended up building many. The advancements I was able to achieve in healing could not have been possible without the re-education I was given by my two brilliant tutors. Going back to school to get re-educated was one of the best things I ever did.

Doctors Don’t Like Change

The only thing that would impede the spread of the healing science of light would be the minefield of medical bureaucracy. I know the history of medicine and how it reacts to anything new that questions the doctors methods; badly. History is full of examples of medical hubris at the cost of the wellbeing of the patient.

In 1615 William Harvey discovered that the heart pumps blood to circulate through the body. Prior to that it was believed that the liver transformed food into blood. Other physicians criticised and rejected Harvey’s findings. Over one hundred years ago patients feared going to hospitals. So many of them developed terrible fevers and died. In 1843 the esteemed American writer and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes came up with the theory that it was doctors themselves who were spreading disease from patient to patient and even causing their deaths, all because they would not wash their hands. He wanted doctors to sterilise their instruments, change the clothing they had been wearing, and of course to wash their hands. There was outrage at Dr Holmes’s recommendations with one opponent, Dr Charles Meigs, claiming, ‘Doctors are gentlemen and gentlemen’s hands are clean.’

In 1849 the Hungarian physician Dr Ignaz Semmelweis also proposed that it was doctors who were causing disease and death. They performed autopsies and afterwards, without washing their hands, delivered babies. They rode through muddy streets and across manure-riddled fields and then without changing clothing or washing up would tend to wounds. When Dr Semmelweis insisted doctors implement hygiene he too was met with such derision and ridicule that he was sent to the insane asylum where he was beaten to death. His findings however formed the basis for modern medical hygiene.

In the 1950’s Dr Jonas Salk had to battle to get a decent lab and any funding to find a vaccine for polio even though the disease was crippling children at epidemic rates. When he was ready to start vaccinating he was almost shut down. According to some medical researchers he was not putting enough detail into his notes and they tried to declare his work ineffective.

In the 1960’s Professor Graeme Clark, here in Australia, was determined to find a way to help deaf people hear. He engaged in intense research in the way the brain responded to coded sound. He believed he needed to find a way to electrically stimulate the auditory nerve. Mainstream medicine thought he was just another nutty professor – until he invented the cochlear implant.

Up until 1981 if you developed an ulcer it was deemed to be your fault. You created it by stressing too much. Dr Barry Marshall, from Western Australia, couldn’t bear the dismissive attitudes of the treating doctors towards the helpless patients. He and Dr Robin Warren noticed that lab results showed that all the ulcer patients had the same gut infection, Helicobacter pylori, which meant basic antibiotics would cure them. It was simple and it was obvious but mainstream medicine dismissed his finding.

Ulcer patients continued to either have their stomachs removed or bleed to death, all because the medical elite would not concede they were wrong. In desperation Dr Marshall drank a cupful of the bacteria, gave himself ulcerous symptoms, and then cured himself with antibiotics. As a result not only are ulcers now a thing of the past but stomach cancer too has virtually disappeared. The two doctors won Nobel Prizes.

The spreading of the danger was iatrogenic, Greek for ‘born from the doctor’. The doctors were the ones spreading the epidemic. Some things never change. In the case of chronic pain it is still the attitudes of some within the health profession that is the greatest cause of patient suffering. The very people who design the medical system are the ones perpetuating the problem and this personal stake, this conflict of interest to use a business term, means the medical system is ill equipped to even begin to address let alone eliminate the problem.

The innate trust my patients had in me, as their doctor, was when my real work began. The fact that I was showing genuine interest in their history and my explanation of how cold laser was safe and non-invasive led to them asking if I would apply it to them. I started using it on patients with back injuries and as they got better other patients asked to be treated. If it weren’t for my patients trusting me not to harm them I would not have gained the knowledge I have as quickly. I could have sat in a lab for years looking at rats or monkeys but I chose to teach my patients what I had learned and they wanted to learn along with me.

Others at that presentation back in 1998 might have seen what I had seen and gone back to their regular practice and changed nothing about their approach to chronic pain. I saw it and saw the future, and I had healed myself.

Soon after I realized I hadn’t had a migraine since the day I hit that sweet spot, the site of my original injury. I recall saying out loud, ‘I think I’ve cured migraine.’ A few weeks after that I noticed the ringing in my ears had stopped. It was then I made the connection. It was perfectly clear that the laser had caused the inflammation to subside therefore tinnitus must be a by-product of inflammation. It was the most exciting time in my entire medical career to know that science continued to deliver answers to mysteries mainstream medical methods had long stopped trying to heal.

But I was not prepared for the resistance and ridicule from within my own profession. When I started using laser some doctors complained to the medical board. Physiotherapists were sent in from other practices to pretend to be patients, and then go online to disparage my work. But I was not deterred. I would let the results speak for me. My methods were achieving an average efficacy of eighty-five percent. Pharmaceutical companies become delirious with joy if any of their drugs achieve an efficacy of thirty percent. Of the patients who are diligent and follow the Principles precisely, there is one hundred percent positive resolution.

Enough about me. The 7 Principles of healing chronic pain will provide the knowledge you need to have a healthier, pain free life.

The Seven Principles of Healing Chronic Pain.

Principle 1. You are Injured

Principle 2. Do No (Further) Harm

Principle 3. Reduce the Inflammation,

Principle 4. Homeostasis, the Art of Self Preservation

Principle 5. You Need Light

Principle 6. Posture

Principle 7. Nobody Heals You but You.

 

 

 

 

postheadericon Book Cover Reveal: Two Princes: The Biker and The Billionaire by Victoria Danann

 About The Book 
 
 
 
Title:  Two Princes: The Biker and The BillionaireAuthor: Victoria DanannGenre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher:  dba7th House Publishing, Imprint of Andromeda LLC

Publication Date: June 16, 2015

 

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Brigid Roan is a graduate student at the University of Texas. She had no trouble getting her thesis approved, but finding a Hill Country motorcycle club willing to give her access to their lifestyle had started to seem impossible. Then she got a lead. A friend of a friend had a cousin with ties to The Sons of Sanctuary.
What she wanted was information to prove a proposition. What she didn’t want was to fall for one of the members of the club. Especially since she had set out to prove that motorcycle clubs are organized according to the same structure as primitive tribal society.
Brash Fornight was standing in line at the H.E.B. Market when his world tipped on its axis. While waiting his turn to check out, his gaze had wandered to the magazine display and settled on the new issue of “NOW”. The image on the cover, although GQ’d up in an insanely urbane way, was… him.
After reading the article, Brash threw some stuff in a duffle and left his club, The Sons of Sanctuary, with a vague explanation about needing a couple of days away. He left his Jeep at the Austin airport and caught a plane for New York, on a mission to find the guy who was walking around with his face.
Two brothers, one a player, one a playboy, are on a collision course with destiny and a woman who thought she won a prize when she was allowed a look inside the Sons of Sanctuary MC.

About The Author

Victoria Danann
Victoria Danann is the USA TODAY Bestselling Author of The Knights of Black Swan, which has won BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES TWO YEARS IN A ROW (2013, 2014). Reviewers Choice Awards, The Paranormal Romance Guild.
Victoria writes cross-genre with uniquely fresh perspectives on paranormal creatures, characters, and themes. She is making her debut into contemporary romance with publication of the SUMMER FIRE ultimate romance collection anthology. It contains a novella intro to the Sons of Sanctuary MC series. The first full novel of the series will be released June 16, 2015.
Contact Victoria at:

postheadericon Book Spotlight: Electricity by Christopher P. Ring

Electricity

TitleElectricity 

Author: Christopher P. Ring

Publisher: Independent Self Publishing

Publication Date: December 5, 2014

Pages: 73

ASIN: B00QOBEIX4

Genre: Literary / New Adult / Short Stories Collection

Format: eBook (.mobi / Kindle), PDF

 

Buy The Book:

 

Book Synopsis:

A teenager wrestles with the meaning of love when his parent’s high-voltage marriage turns deadly.   School boys playing chicken with a commuter train, search for answers about life and death.  An American teacher working in Peru struggles to reconcile the gap between her idealism and the reality of poverty when an act of kindness leads to a frightening episode.  Covert baptisms, duels of love and highway robberies:  the coming-of-age stories in Electricity share a vision of America marked by tainted innocence and misguided idealism.
Book Excerpt:

But Licho remains tall.  Scanning the horizon of the classroom, his
hand blocks out an imagined sun.  Micah
follows his vision across the walls.
They are tacked with pictures she has torn from history books and
language books.  There are pictures of
Quechua farmers from the hills re-enacting ancient Inca dances for Inti-Ramin,
and next to those, pictures of Gene Kelly and Audrey Hepburn dancing on the
Seine in Paris.  On the back wall there
are pictures of conquistadors and ancient emperors, Pizarro paired with
Atahualpa, Cortez paired with Pachacutec.  And then Licho’s face expresses the
consternation of a soldier under attack.
            “Look,
Injuns,” Licho calls, pointing over Micah’s head.  “Man the fart.”
            She
laughs.  “It’s fort.”
            “Fort!”
he says.  “Man the fort!”
            He
leaps off the desk and runs for the far wall.
Then he comes back slowly, touching the ground and smelling his hand,
like an Indian tracking an animal.  This,
from a man who kills pigs and tars roads.
Nothing seems to phase him.  Yet,
she knows she would starve if she had to do these same things to feed herself.
            “I
thought you worked nights only?” Micah asks.
“What happened to work tonight?”
            Licho
leaps to her desk and scurries across it like a crab.
            “Stop
it Licho.  What happened?”
            “No
work,” he says, falling backwards into her desk chair.  It groans as he slides backwards.  Suddenly he seems sullen.  “How do you say in Amer-eeca.  Fried?”
            “You
got fired!”
            “Now
you.”
            Licho
springs to his feet and nudges Micah towards the stack of chairs.  “Now you.
Tell what you see.”  He slides the
desk closer and jerks his head in an upward motion.
            “No,”
she says, listlessly.
            “Vengas.  I will hold chairs.”
            She
feels silly doing this, but thinks she owes it to him.  After all, he has given up the afternoon,
reading to one group while she read with another.  And she has seen a world he has not seen, a
world he wants to see, and she feels sorry.
Yet, this is what scares her.  She
is afraid of what he might expect; with her, he could escape it all.  She climbs on to the desk and feels his hands
pushing and holding her waist at the same time.
The stack of chairs is a teetering ladder and for a moment, looking down
on him, Licho seems small.
            “What
do you see?” he yells out to her excitedly.
            Shhh!  Micah puts a finger to her lips.  The principal is in his office a few rooms
down the line from hers.  Micah should be
gone already.  With a free hand she grabs
at the tiled windowsill.  The moon is
streaking down across the courtyard, the dirt pale and white like dried bones.
            “I
see the moonlight,” she says.  “And
dirt.  And a pencil in the moonlight.”
            “Si,
si.  More.  What else?”
            “Nothing.”  The game feels silly.  She is thirty, not twenty-one.  What she has seen in Peru has made it hard to
pretend.   If she really wants to look,
she already knows what she will see – the things she has not been able to look
beyond.  Alcoholics littering the streets
with empty bottles of rubbing alcohol, stray dogs, piles of garbage clogging
the river, four year old children selling candy, dirty children, poverty.  A city still recovering from an earthquake
twenty years earlier.  Decay.  “Nothing,” she retorts.
            “Liar.  Let me look.
I will show.  I can see.”
            From
her perch the emptiness of her classroom seems out of tune with the life her
students bring.  Licho reaches up for her
hand and pulls her down.  His hand goes
up the back of her shirt and it pinches her.
She stiffens.
            “That
hurt,” she says.
            “Sorry.”  He puts one hand to his lips, reaches out
with the other.  His finger tips are
coated in tar, small pebbles dried into them.
“No com off.”
            Micah
relaxes.  It is his right to imagine, to
hope for something better.  He has
dreams, damn it.  They, too, must
pinch.  She can still feel where his hand
touched her, perhaps as much as he had hoped for, but she gives him a shoulder
and helps him up.  He rises against the
glow of the window.
            There
is silence.
            “Hmm,”
he says.  “Oh yes.  I see.”
            Licho
talks about getting a job as a handyman in an apartment building in
Denver.  He paints dreams of ten hour
work days and coming home to sit on a balcony that overlooks the freeway, and
sipping Pisco Sour’s.  A movie theater is
a block away and there are three markets on the corner.  Nothing changes in his America but the
numbers.  There are more jobs, more cars,
twice as many food stands, trains and buses going to more places, elections
every week.  Micah stands by the door and
looks out.
            “Maybe
you have apartamento on other side of road.
We sit on balcony and wave to each other after work.  Maybe you com over. We have ceviche or
MeecDonald’s.   Yes, I see.”  He looks at Micah in the doorway and
squints.  “You see, yes?”
            He
climbs down and turns her towards the stack of chairs.  “I show you,” he says.  She can feel his hands against her ribs as he
urges her to climb again, but she doesn’t want to.  This is unrealistic.  It is a fantasy she knows not to encourage,
yet she does not want to break it.  She
grabs the edge of a chair and resists.
With her legs she pushes back against Licho.  She feels the back of her head knock into his
teeth.
            “Puta!”
he says, pinning her with his rough hands.
The stack slides up against the window sill.  Down the hill there are people working and
walking the streets, but they are miles away at this point.
            “Mentirosa!”
he spits.  Liar.  Micah is gated between his arms and the
chairs and she can feel his breath on her neck.
Its sweet smell of cola mixes with the dried tar on his shirt.   Twisting her by the arms he wrenches her
loose as the chairs topple over in a big crash.
The small room is split in half by the meager courtyard light.  Where they stand by the desk the light is
soft and dusty, but the far end by the doorway is darkness.  She winds her way through the fallen desks,
stepping on markers and crayons that she had to purchase with her own
money.  Holding close to the back wall
Micah finds herself crossing out of the light, but away from the doorway.   She remembers the old woman squatting on the
corner a few days earlier whom he had scolded, swatted at the woman’s head with
a rag he was carrying.  “Puerco,” he’d
said.  Pig.  She’d gotten mad at him for that, though at
the time it seemed innocent.  A woman
should not have to see that, he’d said.
            “Puta,”
he calls over softly, leaning into the desk.
The single drawer is open.  In his
hand he is waving something, her passport.
For a moment her breath is paralyzed.

 

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

About The Author
 
 
Christopher Ring 2
Christopher P. Ring writes fiction, poetry, children’s stories, travel essays, social commentaries, humor and screen plays.  His writing has appeared in numerous regional magazine and small literary journals such as Caldera and The Broken Bridge Review.  He received his Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of New Hampshire and taught High School English for several years in the U.S. and abroad.   He continues to teach the art storytelling to Elementary school students in Southern Maine, where he resides with his wife (a teacher too) and two children.Much of his fiction draws on the experiences and discoveries of his life as a “rambler”.  Growing up in Long Island, New York, he developed an insatiable thirst to escape the confines of conventional living, spending his twenties and early thirties travelling the globe to off the beaten path places in search of adventure.  He has called many regions of the U.S. his home and has also lived in Ireland, the Andes of Colombia, and Vienna, Austria.  As with the cultures and places he has visited, the settings in his story shape the events and characters profoundly.You can learn more about Christopher P. Ring and check out other writing of his at www.mortalsandfools.com.His next book, The Glow, a collection of speculative fiction short stories, will be available in April, 2015.

 

Connect with Christopher:

Author Website: www.mortalsandfools.com 

Author Blog: www.mortalsandfools.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/untermarmot  

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13084642.Christopher_P_Ring

 

 

Electricity

 

 

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