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.


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?”


“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.”


“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

Connect with Doug:

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postheadericon The Actor by Douglas Gardham Book Feature

The Actor Banner

 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.



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.
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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!



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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.

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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?


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.

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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

Connect with Paul:

Author Website: 

Author Page / Publisher Website:




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

The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery
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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.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

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.





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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.
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postheadericon Book Spotlight: Electricity by Christopher P. Ring



Author: Christopher P. Ring

Publisher: Independent Self Publishing

Publication Date: December 5, 2014

Pages: 73


Genre: Literary / New Adult / Short Stories Collection

Format: eBook (.mobi / Kindle), PDF


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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.
Injuns,” Licho calls, pointing over Micah’s head.  “Man the fart.”
laughs.  “It’s fort.”
he says.  “Man the fort!”
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.
thought you worked nights only?” Micah asks.
“What happened to work tonight?”
leaps to her desk and scurries across it like a crab.
it Licho.  What happened?”
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?”
got fired!”
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.
she says, listlessly.
            “Vengas.  I will hold chairs.”
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.
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.
see the moonlight,” she says.  “And
dirt.  And a pencil in the moonlight.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
is silence.
he says.  “Oh yes.  I see.”
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.
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?”
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
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.
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.
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 next book, The Glow, a collection of speculative fiction short stories, will be available in April, 2015.


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postheadericon Finding the Guts to Write by Matt Shea, author of The Meadowdale Community Project

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The Meadowdale Community Project

Title: The Meadowdale Community Project

Author: Matt Shea

Publisher: Publishing

Pages: 233

Genre: Fiction/Family Life

Format: Paperback/Kindle

Demolition crews continue to raze abandoned and condemned structures in the sleepy town of Meadowdale – a city hit hard by the sluggish economy. A once-cherished building is now the dilapidated Meadowdale Community Center (MCC), where the handicapped and mentally-challenged sort recyclable materials and create artwork from refuse that catches their eye. This prompts many to consider the MCC a burial ground for lost causes. But a mysterious stranger in a wheelchair arrives and befriends an intellectually-challenged teen, Chase Mansfield. When the Community Center is condemned and Chase realizes the squirrel he feeds is about to become homeless, he comes up with an ingenious idea that changes his future – and the future of the community. Chase and his invention soon unite the entire city, breaking down barriers related to wealth, politics, age, mobility and intellect. In an age of fiction based on witchcraft, libido, and immorality, The Meadowdale Community Project is a family-friendly story for all ages, tastes and background.

For More Information

Finding The Guts To Write
By Matt Shea
Writing is a very personal way of extending oneself. It goes beyond the unique style that makes up our character. It also unveils our values based on what story line we create- and how we present it.
This is where the butterflies in my stomach come alive.
Q)  How often have we listened to a loved-one’s critique by hearing these immortal words?
                 “This sounds like you.”
A)   I believe every time.
Often, I’ve been somewhat chastised for how I went about presenting a story with,“This sounds like you,” being the first salvo.
Trust me; I’m the furthest thing from being perfect. For that very reason; I already have my personal struggles in life while trying to survive and make a difference. On occasion, the ‘peanut gallery’ will catch me on something legitimate like the correct spelling for the wrong word- or that misspelled one that should have be caught early.
We’re all human…
When presenting a manuscript that consists of thousands of words- and a subject matter that you-yourself selected; it’s a given to find at least a few kinks somewhere. Blemishes that range from gray areas- to outcries for not being politically correct await.
Our writing style is much like our fingerprints: it’s all one-of-a-kind and varies from person to person. It is tailor-made with our distinct methods of conveying a story that we feel must be told. Our way of drawing attention to a special cause or injustice.
Writing creates a different kind of double-edged sword that the author now faces. One that works both ways against him(her). Let me explain:
Each and every one of us lives in a world where we are condemned to be ‘imperfect’. Hence; we are all different. Strike one.
To compound things even further; we have an unlimited amount of tools at our fingertips. Words, verb tenses, sentence structures, phrases and a galaxy of other literary assets that are just waiting to be pieced together. An assembly that’s guaranteed to be different than the selection others would have used. Strike two.
A writer must convey their story within a guide line where others can easily understand. This is where it gets tricky. On one hand; we need to be correct with our writing skills. On the other; we must  ‘think outside of the box’. It’s crucial to finesse this effort in such a way where it becomes different than the other stuff out there. After going through the mill a few times; one questions if it’s even possible to write a story that will never have any backlash…
A famous editor named, Don Carter once explained to me that an author’s work can be edited over and over again by the experts. Since that’s the case; he stressed that a writer should simply take a deep breath and write how they truly feel.
At one of my writing groups we had the honor of having Jim Fisher join us. Jim is a seasoned editor who now teaches at a local community college. In class he addressed this issue by breaking it down with his genius. After the group went back and forth about ‘proper writing’ he had something to say:
“Ninety percent of acceptable writing is simply having a good story line.”
I was relieved to hear that because when I first broke into writing I felt like the game Pong. It was a frustrating ‘one ore in the water’ affair that resembled Abbott and Costello’s Who’s on First. It seemed whenever I followed the advice of one editor; it came under attack by another.
Things began to get better. It was pointed out to me that famous writers also receive their well-publicized criticism. Successful writers who have the following of millions.
My goal as a writer isn’t to become rich and famous. It’s to simply improve while I try my best to inspire others. Writing is my passion.
As a developing author it was a relief to find    that I was best off just being, ‘Matt’. This discovery allowed me to go forth and get my stories out there. It then put me into a league where I may not bat a thousand; but did find those who appreciated what I had to say; and how I said it. More important; there were those who met me half-way and gave their constructive criticism and encouragement.
It’s nerve-wracking to present your writings to the whole world. Such presentations are a way for an author to say, “Regardless of my imperfections; here is what I have to say and please love me for it.”
In closing, I am grateful to have taken the path I took to get published. My focus is to profile the unsung hero in society who catches the ball when needed. On a more personal note; my accomplishments and shortcomings never once had anyone question where my heart is. For that reason; I’ll continue to write win or lose.
 Thank you:
                                Matt Shea

Matt Shea

Matt Shea writes stories that are designed for both young and old. He profiles the average person in society that’s a little different or misunderstood. Matt also writes about the plight of those who are mentally disabled and senior citizens. He exposes their personal battles in life; with values being challenged- but never compromised.

When it’s all said and done such individuals are recognized for being a contribution to society. They also achieve their just reward: appreciation followed by acceptance.

His characters are nothing more than average people that represent all walks of life. People like you and me. Matt loves feedback from those that take the time to read his stories. He offers his email address and promises to do his very best to answer all who write him.
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postheadericon Book Spotlight: Our Dried Voices by Greg Hickey

Our Dried Voices


TitleOur Dried Voices 

Author: Greg Hickey

Publisher: Scribe Publishing Company

Publication Date: November 4, 2014

Pages: 234

ISBN: 978-1940368931

Genre: Dystopian / Science Fiction

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



Purchase The Book:

In 2153, cancer was cured. In 2189, AIDS. And in 2235, the last members of the human race traveled to a far distant planet called Pearl to begin the next chapter of humanity. Several hundred years after their arrival, the remainder of humanity lives in a utopian colony in which every want is satisfied automatically, and there is no need for human labor, struggle or thought. But when the machines that regulate the colony begin to malfunction, the colonists are faced with a test for the first time in their existence. With the lives of the colonists at stake, it is left to a young man named Samuel to repair these breakdowns and save the colony. Aided by his friend Penny, Samuel rises to meet each challenge. But he soon discovers a mysterious group of people behind each of these problems, and he must somehow find and defeat these saboteurs in order to rescue his colony.



Book Excerpt:

The sound of the bells echoed across the colony.
They sounded five times, and by the end of the fifth peal everyone had stopped
what they were doing and started to walk toward the nearest source of the
noise. The bells had a tinny, hollow sound to them. To be sure, it was
unmistakably the sound of bells, but it lacked that rich, thunderous, rolling
swell once heard in passing by an old church at the top of the hour. Instead,
it was as though the sound of real bells had been recorded and re-recorded ad
infinitum until only bell-like sounds now remained.
The bells called the people to the midday meal. All
across the lush meadow, the colonists fell into a kind of reverie. Moments
earlier, they had been romping through the meadow or splashing in the river
with the joyful abandon of children, while others napped blissfully at the base
of a modest hill or fornicated with some momentary lover in the shade of a
spreading tree. But now their innocent laughter, their hushed excited voices,
their intermittent shrieks of pleasure all ceased for an instant as they moved
as one toward the sound of the bells. As soon as the fifth toll had faded in
the air, the human noise resumed as though it had never been silenced. The
colonists walked eagerly but unhurriedly, small, hairless, brown-skinned
people, all barefooted and dressed in simple, cream-colored smocks.
The bell sounds came from the seven meal halls
spread throughout the colony—long, tall, rectangular buildings erected from the
black, craggy rock characteristic of the mountains of Pearl, now smoothed down and
cut into bricks and painted a soothing off-white. Another smaller building
abutted one end of each meal hall. Their wan stone façades matched those of the
larger halls and there were no discernible entryways in their solid exteriors.
As the colonists entered each meal hall, they lined
up along the right-hand wall to wait for their food. The walls were painted a
pale sky blue, and on the far wall was a small square hole. One by one, each
diner stepped forward in line, a small, red light above the hole flashed, a
short clicking and whirring noise sounded and then a round, firm, dark brown
cake appeared at the edge of the opening. One by one, each colonist took the
proffered meal cake and carried it over to one of the many wooden tables or out
into the meadow.
Near the front of the line at one hall, a male
colonist turned to face the man behind him.
“Hellohoweryou?” said the first man.
“Goodthankshoweryou?” replied the second man.
The two men stared blankly at each other for a
moment. Then the first man blinked and said “Goodweathertoday.”
The second bobbed his head and grinned.
They continued to gaze at each other with vapid
expressions until the first man turned around and stepped forward in line. The
two men were right. It was Tuesday. It rained on Mondays. And thanks to the
colony’s weather modification system, it had rained every Monday, and only on
Monday, for hundreds of years.
When about half the colonists at this particular
meal hall had received their food, an adult woman moved to the front of the
line. A young boy, no taller than her waist, stood behind her. The woman
stepped up to the wall, the red light above the hole flashed… and nothing
happened. There was no clicking, no whirring, and no meal cake emerged from the
hole in the milky blue wall. Some people a few places behind the first woman,
by now so accustomed to the regular pace of the line, stepped forward in
anticipation of her taking the food and continuing on. When the line did not
move, they bumped awkwardly into the colonists in front of them, very much
surprised that there should be a fleshy, breathing, human body in their path
instead of empty space. Those closest to the front of the line fell silent when
they saw the woman had not yet received her meal, and then the silence spread
evenly and rhythmically down the line, like a row of pillowed dominoes falling
to the floor. Yet all the colonists continued to wear the same insipid
half-grin on their faces as they waited patiently for the food to be dispensed
and the line to creep forward once more.
A long, loud, whining shriek from the young boy
waiting with his mother at the front of the line broke through the stillness,
and it was this sound, not the actual interruption of the food service, which
seemed to have the greatest effect on those in the hall. The boy did not cry.
He shed no tears, and the sound which emerged from his mouth was not a
breathless and choked sobbing, or even the petulant howl of a child’s tantrum.
It was a primal, animal moan that rose from the depths of his unfilled stomach,
rushed up his throat with a cold and persistent ferocity and forced its way
over his teeth, throwing his head back as it broke from his lips. No one tried
to comfort the boy. His mother did not even turn around to look at him. Her
weak smile faded, but she continued to stare at the dark hole in the wall,
still waiting for her meal to appear. Then a child some dozen places back in
the line picked up the boy’s howl, and then a woman farther behind did the
same. Soon the entire line was wailing loudly.
Those colonists who had already received their
meals hunkered over their cakes and stuffed their last bites into their mouths.
One of them stood up, bumping hard into his table. The rest followed. They
walked hurriedly to the door, brushing past the onlookers from outside who had
gathered to see what all the noise was about. Those still in line stared
dazedly at the others around them, at the now half-empty hall, an incipient
question forming somewhere deep in their skulls.
A man in the middle of the line broke their
unsteady ranks first. He ran, stumbling over tables and chairs bolted to the
floor in his maddened dash toward the doorway. The rest of the line scattered
in his wake. Out through the door they went, cracking bony limbs on the wooden
furniture in their paths, pushing and trampling one another as they all tried
to force their way through the doorway at once, like blood cells pumped through
a clotted artery.


Those who had already finished their meals stood
outside in a loose ring several meters away from the entrance of the food hall,
and as the wild runners pushed their way through the door, they began to run as
well, picking up the wail of the unfed as they went. They ran in no particular
direction, a single mass exodus from the hall, teeming out across the gay green
meadows, up and over the soft, undulating hills, and their cries rippled
throughout the once-peaceful fields to fill the void left by the cessation of
the bells with a sound far more vibrant than those stale chimes which had just
called them to their uneaten meal.

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

About The Author:

Greg Hickey


Greg Hickey was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1985. After graduating from Pomona College in 2008, he played and coached baseball in Sweden and South Africa. He is now a forensic scientist, endurance athlete and award-winning writer. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Lindsay.
You can visit Greg’s website at

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Author Website: 

Author Blog:





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postheadericon Book Spotlight: Derek The Dragon by Leela Hope

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About The Childrens Book Collection


Derek The Dragon (Book 1)

TitleDerek The Dragon 

Author: Leela Hope

Publisher: Independent Self Publishing

Publication Date: January 26, 2015

Pages: 22


Genre: Childrens Books

Format: eBook (.mobi – Kindle) / PDF

Purchase The Book – Amazon:
Derek The Dragon

Do your kids ever feel sad?

Do they have trouble making friends?

An amazing story for all ages to enjoy, aimed at children 0-5 years of age. Watch as Derek the Dragon learns about the meaning of happiness in this tale. Come and meet an adventurous dormouse who decides that he can change his lot in life and through caring about others he ends up saving his village. The story is told through rhyming verse and vivid illustration. Derek the Dragon contains a great message about caring and friendship for parents to share with their children.


Derek The Dragon (Book 2)

TitleDerek The Dragon And The Missing Socks 

Author: Leela Hope

Publisher: Independent Self Publishing

Publication Date: January 25, 2015

Pages: 22


Genre: Childrens Books

Format: eBook (.mobi – Kindle) / PDF

Purchase The Book – Amazon:

Derek The Dragon And The Missing Socks

Do your kids forget to clean up their rooms?

Have they ever asked you to find things for them?

This story is pure family entertainment. It is great for kids 2-82 but it is aimed at the 0-5 age group. The book covers a very important life skill, cleaning. Derek the dragon does not like to clean, but he learns that he needs to get his house clean if he is ever going to find his lucky socks. Devin the dormouse comes to help his friend and shows him the way to get his house clean. The friends clean the cave and find the lucky socks. The story is brought to life through vivid illustrations and is told in rhyming verse.



Derek The Dragon (Book 3)

TitleDerek The Dragon and Princess Dayna 

Author: Leela Hope

Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: January 25, 2015
Pages: 22
Genre: Childrens Books
Format: eBook (.mobi – Kindle) / PDF
Derek The Dragon and Princess Dayna
Do you or your kids have trouble with people who are different?
Do your kids have trouble making friends?
This is a terrific story aimed at kids 0-5, and yet, it is fun for the whole family to read and enjoy. Derek the Dragon, the dormouse, Devin and Princess Dayna all learn a lot about friendship. The book deals with misunderstandings and stereotypes, but in a way that is very palatable for little children to understand. The villagers are worried about a dragon flying around their village. They send their princess off to deal with the situation. The story is told in rhyming verse and featuring dynamic illustrations. It is a story for the whole family to enjoy.

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

Meet The Author
Leela Hope is a writer with over 22 years of experience in writing endearing children’s fiction. Her lively characters have entranced and captivated her audience, and she has taken great joy in writing the three series of books, each beautifully illustrated with love and care. Her stories concentrate on the adventures of floppy eared bunnies and wide-eyed children learning lessons in life, before returning home wiser and eager for sleep. leela hope writes her stories to entertain the very young, but also to educate. Her vision is always of a parent sitting on a child’s bed, reciting the stories each night, while the young one drifts off to sleep, lulled into a dream world full of fun and adventure.From her very earliest years of childhood, Leela made up stories in her head, telling them to her younger brother and sister. The stories flowed easily from her mind, and it wasn’t long before she realized she had a gift for writing. By the age of 14, she had already written a small book of short stories for her own entertainment, and by the age of 22, she had published her first full-fledged children’s fiction in several magazines. Leela hope was destined to be an author and she knew exactly what genre of fiction she wanted to dedicate her life too.Born in San Diego, California, and still residing in the area, Leela studied English Literature at Berkeley, earning a degree in 1989. Her writing covers a span of several genres, but she always returns to her first love, children’s fiction. She enjoys scuba diving and visiting wildlife parks, seeking new inspiration for cuddly characters for her stories. leela hope lives in an urban area of San Diego and is presently at work on a new book.
Connect with Leela:Amazon Author Page:




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postheadericon Book Spotlight: I Just Wanted Love by D.J. Burr

 I Just Wanted Love
TitleI Just Wanted Love: Recovery of a Codependent, Sex and Love Addict
Author: D.J. Burr
Publisher: ABLE Counseling Services, LLC
Publication Date: December 31, 2014
Pages: 232 pages
ISBN: 978-0692299128
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback, eBook (.mobi / Kindle), PDF
D.J. Burr is a man on a mission; successful business owner, highly respected psychotherapist and survivor of a dysfunctional life. At a young age, all he wanted was to be loved, but instead found himself targeted by a sexual predator. D.J. slipped into a life of addiction and clawed his way through broken relationships and seedy sex clubs–looking for love in all the wrong places. D.J. will take readers on a roller coaster of emotions as he details his search for grace and love.
Book Excerpt:
Someone actually said they were
addicted to me, and that was the straw that broke this camel’s back. I could no
longer hold in all the pain and shame. I cried out in grief as I had this man
inside of me and said, “Take the condom off. I need you. I am addicted to you too.”
Every ounce of who I was washed out of me as I climaxed multiple times with
this man who was not wearing a condom. When it got right down to it, I just didn’t
believe I was worth anything. I wish I could say that I learned from my mistake
that day, but I didn’t. I took that risk again and again with him and others.
At this point, I was utterly spent
thinking about all the emotional baggage I had in my life. I just wanted to be
wanted for me and who I was, but I didn’t know how to get there. Somehow, I
thought I would find the answers to my questions at the bathhouse. The
bathhouse I frequented was a place where men could freely have sex out in the
open or in private rooms. There was porn, a steam room, and showers. The
facility even provided vending machines that were stocked with lubricant, condoms,
and candy.
I found a sense of false confidence
when I visited the bathhouse. For example, when someone approached me and wanted
to have sex, I felt empowered. After all, I could say, “yes” or “no.” I hardly
ever said no. But, the joy of being needed by
others was only temporary, and the power I felt was an inauthentic. It
never lasted more than 10 minutes after I left. Always, I worried someone would
see me walking out. Often, feared I might see a client there, and then what
would I do?
With everything going on in my
life at the time, I thought my business was the only thing worth salvaging, but
I was wrong. I didn’t realize that through my obsessive sexual behavior, I was
abandoning my own business too. I spent so much time worrying about my next sexual
fix that often my focus and attention was not on my therapy practice and its
growing clientele. Also, I was doing things that were actually illegal, such as
videotaping men in restrooms or locker rooms. But what can I say? I got high from that kind of thing which temporarily
relieved the pain and chaos swirling around inside me. The fact that I wasn’t
getting caught was exhilarating. I actually thought this was normal behavior. In
fact, I thought it was so normal that I never hesitated to send copies
of my illegal videos and pictures to friends. They sent me their photos too.
I needed serious help. I started
seeing a forensic psychologist who has been in the business for over 30 years. Every
week I told him about my struggles, and every week he said the same thing, “Go
to a meeting.”
But, I didn’t want to hear about
going to meetings. However, my therapist was insistent; he wanted me to see how
12-Step meetings could work for me. During our sessions, he often pulled out
the AA Big Book, having me read through “The 12 Steps.”
He encouraged me to go to
Codependents Anonymous, but at the time, I didn’t get it. Along with “not
getting it,” I didn’t want anyone to tell me about how I was “codependent.”
Frankly, I didn’t have a real sense of what the word even meant. Most weeks,
after therapy, I continued to walk down to the bathhouse to have sex for a few
hours. Was I codependent on the sex?
Looking back at the summer after
my sophomore year of high school, I now recognize this is when my codependence
and sex and love addiction fully emerged.
I wish
someone would have told me that I was being targeted by a sick, child molester.
While hanging out at my great-grandmother, Mama Sara’s house, I saw someone out
of the corner of my eye. It was Kenny. I had always known him as one of my
dad’s closest friends. While growing up, I had gone over to his home many times
to play with his nephew. Kenny had always been friendly to me. He lived right
across the street from Mama Sara.
After catching Kenny’s glance out of the corner of my eye,
he walked over and asked if he could sit down next to me. I said, “Sure.” I had
noticed that his wife and two boys were hanging out on his front porch…I didn’t
really know them all that well. Kenny and I started talking, and he asked what
was going on with me. Like always, he asked when
was the last time I had spoken to my dad. Honestly, I couldn’t remember.
Kenny always insisted that I call my dad and try to work things out. He was pretty
much a broken record when it came to that subject.
After getting all the
formalities out of the way, the conversation slowly turned to an awkward
topic. In short, Kenny said he knew what was going on with my family and me. At
first, I was puzzled. What he was talking about. But as he continued, it was
like he had been a fly on the wall inside my house; he knew I was gay. I was
At first, I was angry and upset with Kenny. Then he told me
he was interested in talking with me about
it. He had genuine empathy for my situation, and he made an effort to understand
what I must have been going through. Finally, I said to myself, here is someone who is finally willing to
listen to me and possibly be objective about the whole thing.
At that
moment, I felt a ton of weight lifted from my shoulders. But the weightlessness
didn’t last long.
After a while, the conversation between Kenny and I turned
a little dark. It was like he was too
supportive. It was like he was trying to coax me into saying something he
wanted to hear, but I had no clue what that was. Throughout our conversation, I
kept glancing at him, and he was just staring at me really intensely. His was a
look I had never seen before in my life, and I started to get nervous. I felt
shaky, and my hands got very clammy. Then, he popped the question I will never
forget for as long as I live. He straightforwardly asked me to kiss him. I couldn’t
believe my ears. This man was no less than two feet from my face, and he was
asking me to kiss him. My heart started to race. At first I thought his gesture
was some kind of joke, especially since his family was sitting on his front
porch, directly across the street from us, probably wondering why he was even
talking to me in the first place. And now,
he was asking for a kiss?
I was now beyond nervous. I mustered up the courage to ask him
what the hell he was talking about and why he was asking for such a thing,
especially since his wife was right across the way. I asked if he was gay. He
said he didn’t like “labels.” I thought this was kind of funny because I assumed
his label as husband and father, should stand for a lot. But, I guess not. That’s
when he told me he was interested in me. That was all I needed to hear to get
totally freaked out. I had no earthly idea what to do next. I wondered, what interest could a 40-something have in a
16-year old?
I told him I had to go inside, and he looked at me as if I were
Juliet and him, Romeo. There was so much intensity in that look, and I was actually
Now, I am aware the interaction I had with Kenny that weekend
was his initial step in him “grooming” me for a secret, sexual relationship. It
was a gradual, calculated process.
Step 1: Targeting the victim Kenny sized my vulnerabilities up that day. He was empathic
to my situation at home and assured me he was not going to be just one more
adult interested in judging me for being gay. Kenny wanted to “protect” me.
I hurried into the house and went straight to my room. Once
there, I began to cry. I was so confused. There were a billion questions rolling
around in my head. I didn’t understand what had just happened. This grown man—my
dad’s friend, a married man, a father—had just told me of his interest in me.
He had asked for a kiss while his wife sat only 50 feet away. I was in total
shock. Since I had no one to talk to, I had to deal with it all on my own. I definitely
didn’t want to risk my family finding out. I cried myself to sleep that night.
Several days passed, and I hadn’t seen or heard from Kenny.
I just kept thinking that the whole thing had to be some kind of joke. I tried my
best to banish the incident from my mind. Well, no sooner did I try to do that, and I saw him again. Getting
off the bus for my job at the mall, there he was.
We engaged in small talk. He told me he now worked a taxi
route that included the mall.  When I
heard this, I let out a scream in the back of my mind—this was all too much for
me. If he was now working at the mall where I worked, this increased my chances
of seeing him on a regular basis. Which really scared me. It occurred to me
that maybe he was some sick man who lusted after young boys. If only I had
decided to trust my own instincts. But eventually, I decided to throw that idea
out the window because, if that were the case, why didn’t he do anything or say
something before now?
One afternoon after working the morning shift, I walked
across the street from the mall to catch the bus home. Kenny’s car was parked
near the bus stop.  He had also been
working that day, so we engaged in casual conversation at the bus stop for a
few minutes. Our small talk wasn’t anything really dramatic, but I noticed more
and more that I had these crazy feelings whenever I was around him. I found
myself growing awkwardly attracted to
this man who was old enough to be my father. After all, Kenny was 45 at the time,
which was way older than my own dad.
Our conversation ended when the bus arrived. A few days
later, I worked the evening shift and once again, rode the bus home. By the
time I made it back to my neighborhood, it was dark. I got off the bus and
headed down the hill to Mama Sara’s house. Everything was fine until I heard a car
pull up behind me. I knew it was Kenny because his car made this awful sound.
He stopped the car, and I turned around to see what he wanted. He asked if I
wanted a lift to my place.
Stage two: Gaining a victim’s trust I thought about it for a minute, and then I got into the
car with him. That’s when he said he needed to make a quick detour to the local
drugstore to pick up some ice cream for his wife.
We ended up talking all the way to the drugstore, and it
was really interesting having such a lengthy discussion with him. I didn’t feel
like a child when I talked to him. I felt as though he valued my opinions. I
felt a connection with him. We walked into the store together to get what he
needed and then headed back toward home.
On the ride back, the conversation took a turn to the topic
of him and me. I still thought he was crazy. Why would he want me? I still hadn’t figured this man out.
All I knew was that I was growing really
attracted to him, and this became evident because I was so aroused around him. I couldn’t tell him whether or not anything
could actually develop between us. I couldn’t think that far in advance at that
The car finally reached his house and we got out and stood
around on the sidewalk for a few minutes. Since Mama Sara’s house was right
there, I was scared that someone would see me with him. As I started to leave
to walk home, he pulled me back and held me. I froze. I liked it. I liked the
feeling of his hands on me. But then, I quickly snapped out of it, pulled away
from him, and hurried home. I knew right then I was in trouble. I actually
liked this man, and he liked me. What was I to do? Kenny gained my trust, and I
was on my way to “needing” him.
three: filling a need
A few days later I got a
page on my pager. It was Kenny. I had totally forgotten I had given him my pager
number. I called him back, and he wanted to know what I was doing and when I
had to work. I told him I had to work that morning, and apparently, so did he. He gave me a ride to work, and it was so strange being
in his car this time. I felt like a fugitive on the run. I rendezvoused
with him further down my street so my family wouldn’t see me getting into his
car. As he drove me to work, I kept an eye out for other family members’ cars.
I just knew I would be dead if they knew I was with Kenny.
I finally made it to work
undetected, and, afterwards, we planned to
go to lunch. So after our shifts ended, we hooked back up in the mall parking
lot and went to lunch at this little diner down the street. I felt so strange being with him. I was worried
about what people might say. Maybe, they thought I was his son or brother?
Maybe, they thought we were lovers? Hell, I
didn’t even know what we were.
All I really knew was that someone was paying attention to
me and thought I was valuable. He was interested in what I had to say and how I
felt. I didn’t feel lonely when he was around. I didn’t feel scared anymore.
After lunch, we got in the car and headed back home. On the
way there, he reached over and touched my leg. It felt good. I got this warm
sensation. It was unreal. I liked his affection. I believe, on some unconscious
level, I forgot this man had a wife and kids. Was I wrong for doing this? I didn’t
know then. I was enjoying myself. After all the hell I had been through, I
thought I needed to enjoy my surroundings, and he just happened to be a part of
those surroundings. That’s what I told myself. I was a scared kid looking for
We finally made it back to our street, and he pulled into
his driveway. I looked back, and I could only make out part of Mama Sara’s house,
so I doubted anyone could see me. He hopped out of the car and told me to come in.
My heart sank. I couldn’t move. I told him there was no way in hell I was going
into his house, but he kept begging me. He even came over to my door and playfully
tried to drag me out. But still, I didn’t budge. Truth be told; I was terrified
because of a serious look on his face, and I knew what was going on in his mind—he
wanted to mess around. But, I knew there was no way I could do that. I knew I had
to get my ass out of that car. He finally backed off, and I went home. I was
relieved to be home, my heart pounding. I was all worked up.
The following days and weeks were filled with him trying to
pursue me, and me not knowing what to do. He called me constantly. It didn’t
matter where I was; he just kept calling. Having my pager going off so much was
sort of nerve–racking, but I secretly enjoyed sneaking off to use the phone to
see what Kenny wanted. Kenny called me from his home, work, anywhere—and this
made me feel good. I felt like I was the only person in his life whenever I was
around him. He paid so much attention to me, and I couldn’t have asked for anything
more. Eventually, the fact that he had a wife didn’t seem to bother me at all, because
soon he and I finally had sex.
It all went down one afternoon after he gave me a ride home
from work. This time when he pulled into his driveway and asked me to come in,
I didn’t hesitate. He took me to the back bedroom in his house.  There was a bathroom, mini-kitchenette, futon
bed, and phone—it was like his own studio apartment. He showed me around the
other parts of the house, and I saw his family portraits—he had a great-looking
four: Isolation
He closed and locked the bedroom
door, and my heart jumped out of my chest.
At first, I tried to play it calm, walking around the room,
hoping he wouldn’t try to do anything—but in the back of my mind, I wanted him
just as badly as he wanted me. I had never been in a situation like this before.
I had never even been interested in older men.
five: Sexualizing the relationship
Then, it
finally happened. He came up to me turned me around, and we kissed. I couldn’t
feel my feet…I was floating on air. His lips tasted so good (smoker’s breath,
but still good). The next thing I knew our clothes were coming off and we were
having wild, passionate, uncontrolled sex. I had never had it like that before,
so I just let myself go.
Kenny was so gentle with me. I felt so wanted, so loved at
that moment. It was like nothing I had ever imagined or experienced. After we
both had climaxed, he ran some bath water, and we both got in. I was in heaven.
He washed my throbbing body, and it felt so, so good. We kissed some more and
fondled each other in the bath.
I didn’t know what to think about the whole scenario that
day. I was partially relieved because I didn’t have to keep telling him “no.” I
was feeling very anxious because I worried that my family would find out. I
became trapped in a web of lies and became even more isolated from my family
and dependent on Kenny.
six: Maintaining control
In the following weeks, we met
secretly at his home, at work, around the block, in the shrubs near the mall—anywhere
we could kiss and makeout. We would even sit out in broad daylight kissing in
his car in the mall parking lot. It felt like a real relationship. I bought him
sweet little cards from Hallmark, wrote him poetry, and did anything else I
could do to show him how much he meant to me. He took me out to lunch
occasionally. One time he even went to help me shop for school clothes. We
bought matching “K-Swiss” t-shirts! Sometimes I looked out my window, and I
could see him wearing his t-shirt, and I just knew it was some kind of sign
that he was thinking about me.
Late at night, he came down to my house and talked to me
while I sat on my screened-in front porch. He usually stood out in the street while
we talked. One night, all hell broke loose. Mama Sara had apparently started noticing
how Kenny was always coming over to talk to me (it was usually around 11 or midnight,
but she noticed). Kenny and I were standing there talking about random things
when my cousin, Samantha, came storming out of the house, demanding that Kenny
leave me alone. She started ranting and raving about how he had no business
talking to me. It was such a mess. I was pissed beyond belief. Kenny left, and
I went inside demanding to know why in the hell she had decided I couldn’t talk
to him.
I walked into the living room all fired up. I couldn’t
believe Samantha had embarrassed me like that. I demanded an answer as to why I
couldn’t talk to Kenny. That’s when Mama Sara said that she knew all about
Kenny, and she knew he was trying to mess with me.
I told her that she had no right to tell me whom I could
talk to or see. Then, she played the AIDS card. She went on and on about our neighbor
whose son died of AIDS because he was gay. I had no clue why she couldn’t
understand that anybody can contract AIDS, not just gay people. She got all
emotional and started saying that she didn’t want me to be like all the other gays
and die.
She then took it further by claiming that I was the cause
of some fight Kenny and his wife supposedly had out on the street a few days
back. I hadn’t heard about any fight. I asked how she knew about it. Just like
I figured, she heard about it from all the neighborhood gossip. I was appalled.
I wanted to get out of that fucking house so bad at that moment. I called Kenny
and told him what went down. He claimed he had no idea what Mama Sara was
talking about concerning a fight. From that day forward, everything at my
great-grandmother’s house got worse.
Finally, it got to the point where
I started lying about going to the library, so I could see Kenny. I thought my
family was trying to take me away from the one that I loved so much. I had
fallen hard for this man in just a month’s time. I wrote countless poems that
expressed my undying love for Kenny. Here is a sample of one of the poems I wrote
to him:
of My Heart
a ray of light, you shined into my life.
took my hand and held it tight.
looked at you, very sweet, indeed.
touched my soul and, like a thief in the night, you stole my heart.
wasn’t willing to, give at first, but with your honesty and trust, I must.
in a day, every second of every hour, every day of every month, I will always
you have a piece of my heart.
cherish me, as I do you.
may not be yours in the fullest extent, but in our hearts we’ll always be.
love you with every inch of my heart, but remember only one piece is given when
I became even more isolated from my family that
summer. Kenny had come into my life and became everything I thought I was
missing. Every chance I could take to see him, I did. He told me he needed me.
He told me he loved me. I was convinced that I was in love too. It wasn’t clear
at the time, but I now know that my child molester had the ultimate grip on my
It was as if I were under a spell. Never had I
disobeyed my family like this and lied to so many people. I was different now;
I was not myself. I became obsessed with Kenny. But, he knew I was only staying
with Mama Sara for the summer, so he slowly tried to push me away. He finally succeeded
when he asked me if I thought he would ever leave his family for me. I said I
hoped that he would. He said there was no way he would.
And so, there it was. In a single instant, Kenny went
from this caring, loving friend and lover to this evil user. But, I still
couldn’t hate him. Before I left, he said he would always love me and cherish
everything I had ever given to him. All of these moments ignited my addictions,
but the stage was set much earlier in my childhood.
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Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

About The Author
D.J. Burr

Darrett “D.J.” Burr is a licensed mental health counselor in the Washington State; national certified counselor and a specialist in problematic sexual behavior. He has been in private practice in Seattle, WA for five years. D.J. is the co-founder, owner, and Executive Director of A.B.L.E. Counseling Services, LLC.

D.J. is the creator of ABLE Affirmations, ABLE Life Recovery, and the ABLE Care Clinic. D.J. published Unfinished: A GLBT Domestic Violence Workbook while completing his Masters in Community Counseling at Argosy University-Atlanta in 2009.

Born in raised in Marietta, GA, D.J. has been known to many as a survivor. His childhood was less-than-nurturing. D.J. spent the majority of his early years tending to other’s needs and wants; not knowing what his were. He kept fighting for more–more understanding of himself.

Unfortunately, D.J. lost focus after being targeted by a sexual predator. D.J. lapsed into addiction to numb the pain of the molestation, broken relationships, dysfunctional family of origin, and loss of his childhood. However, the addiction did not stop him.

Over 15 years later, D.J. has learned to live life instead of surviving life. D.J. found answers to his long unanswered questions, primarily, who loves me? Twelve Step recovery and rigorous honesty saved D.J. from a life of addiction. He can now say, “I love myself.” Loving himself allowed D.J. to stop chasing unavailable people, places, and things. He now focuses on his recovery, which impacts every facet of his life.

D.J. enjoys writing, watching movies, especially horror/suspense. His favorite band is Nickelback. His favorite R&B group is Destiny’s Child. D.J. is also a huge fan of old 80s-90s cartoons like Transformers.You can visit D.J. Burr’s website at

Connect with D.J.:
Author Website:
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postheadericon A Conversation with Gary Rodriguez, author of YA ‘Escape Through the Wilderness’

Gary RodriguezMy name is Gary Rodriguez, and I live in California. I’m the president of LeaderMetrix Inc., a consulting company that specializes in senior-level executive coaching, organizational development, and conflict resolution.

Previously, I worked for eighteen years in the radio business as an executive where I spent several years as one of the original managers of Infinity Broadcasting.

Following a successful radio career I became the president of a non-profit organization for a season.

As a young man, I spent a tour of duty in the U.S. Army where I was recognized as the youngest Drill Instructor in the Army’s history at age 18 years. I was also awarded the Silver Star (the nation’s third highest award for valor) while serving in a combat zone.

Over the past few years, I’ve written three non-fiction books and then I decided to write a novel.

My first book, Purpose-Centered Public Speaking, was published in 2009 and was re-published this summer (2014). Then I wrote a companion workbook designed to help people implement the principles taught in my first book. Next, I wrote Overcoming The Fear Of Public Speaking. And this past year, I wrote my first novel, Escape Through The Wilderness.

For More Information

About the Book:

Escape Through the Wilderness 4Sixteen-year-old Savannah Evans walks with a slight limp thanks to a gymnastics’ accident that dashed her Olympic dreams, but didn’t stop her from attending an adventure camp in Idaho. At CampArrowhead, she quickly befriends Jade Chang and Rico Cruz, but Conner Swift taunts Savi because of her injury.

When the four are teamed together for an overnight white-water river rafting adventure, Savi refuses to get in the same raft with Conner. Unfortunately, the director will not reassign her.

A fun expedition down the river turns into a nightmare when their raft slams into a huge rock and their adult guide disappears down the river.

Without their guide and desperately trying to steer an out-of-control raft, they pass the “last chance” marker and enter the larger rapids. With Jade pinned between the raft and a rock, and Rico clinging to a lifeline, Savi must cut the raft free.

When the four drag themselves out of the river, they’re bruised, beaten, lost, and twenty-five miles from camp. Because of late-night campfire tales of Vexel, a vicious animal that roams the nearby woods, Savi and the others are terrified.

Savi becomes the unlikely leader who tries to guide the group back to CampArrowhead. Limited supplies, injuries, and the constant threat of Vexel—who Savi fears is stalking them, complicate the harrowing return trip.

Readers will enjoy dramatic survival scenes and the group working together, solving problems, and learning to overcome adversity.

For More Information

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

I was born and raised in San Francisco, California and still live in the Bay Area.

Q: How did you come up with your title?

Escape Through the Wilderness surfaced early in the process of writing the adventure novel. It was a perfect title that described the challenge facing four stranded teens following a river rafting accident at summer camp.

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

Hope Nixon created the cover design. She has designed all four of my book covers. My wife and I had envisioned a specific cover design for the book but we didn’t give Hope much detail. We wanted to allow her to come up with her own concept. When she presented us with the initial cover we were both blown away by how close it was to the cover we both had envisioned.

Obviously, we wanted a cover that made a strong statement about the book’s content and the type of story it is. As you can see by the cover, she exceeded our expectations.

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

I hope you don’t mind. But instead, here’s a brief synopsis and what a few others have said about the book:

Sixteen-year-old Savannah Evans walks with a slight limp thanks to a gymnastics’ accident that dashed her Olympic dreams, but didn’t stop her from attending an adventure camp in Idaho. At CampArrowhead, she quickly befriends Jade Chang and Rico Cruz, but Conner Swift taunts Savi because of her injury.

When the four are teamed together for an overnight white-water river rafting adventure, Savi refuses to get in the same raft with Conner. Unfortunately, the camp director will not reassign her.

A fun expedition down the river turns into a nightmare when their raft slams into a huge rock and their adult guide disappears down the river.

Without their guide and desperately trying to steer an out-of-control raft, they pass the “last chance” marker and enter the larger rapids. With Jade pinned between the raft and a rock, and Rico clinging to a lifeline, Savi must cut the raft free.

When the four drag themselves out of the river, they’re bruised, beaten, lost, and twenty-five miles from camp. Because of late-night campfire tales about Vexel, a vicious animal that roams the nearby woods, Savi and the others are terrified.

Savi becomes the unlikely leader who tries to guide the group back to CampArrowhead. Limited supplies, injuries, and the constant threat of Vexel—who Savi fears is stalking them, complicate the harrowing return trip.

Readers will enjoy dramatic survival scenes and the group working together, solving problems, and learning to overcome adversity.

Frank Thomas comments, “Bought this book for my daughter who loves to read–and she LOVED it! Afterwards, she passed it on to her friends at school and they thought it was really great too! As a parent, love finding quality books that are appropriate, remembered and meaningful and this is one of them. This book could probably be read by anyone of any age, but most enjoyable to between 9 to 16 year olds according to my daughter. Looking forward to future books by Gary Rodriguez! My compliments to you! Well-Done!”

Another parent adds, “My twelve year old son finished this book today and said at dinner tonight, “Mom this book is a 10/10! It has just the right amount of adventure, right amount of comedy, right amount of terror, right amount of romance…right amount of everything!” He is an avid reader of all sorts of genres and rarely gives a book a “10″. Great story!!”

Patricia reveled in the book from the perspective of an educator, writing, “I really enjoyed this book. As a Reading Teacher I’m always looking for quality books that will quickly engage young readers and keep them reading all the way to the end. This book does exactly that. Students from about 4th grade on will enjoy the quick paced adventure as well as the meaningful character development. I appreciated the way the author concluded the story in a thoughtful way too. I’m recommending this book for AR. I hope others do the same.”

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

The harsh truth is that today’s younger generation needs to foster leadership skills; but parents and educators are at a loss as to how to convey them. There’s no better way to capture young minds than with a great story. That’s why I am using it to instill focus, teamwork, respect, commitment and integrity.

But the story transcends any single life lesson to also help readers explore a series of pertinent life issues such as faith, forgiveness, abuse and bullying. In essence, it’s a thought-provoking read that allows youngsters to absorb information in a way that’s more digestible than through traditional education channels.

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

There are many chapters that were thrilling to write. But I especially enjoyed writing Chapter 2. The setting is a gathering around the fire on the first night of camp. It’s a tradition called Fright Night where scary tales are told. This chapter introduces Vexel, a vicious animal who prowls the wilderness to the south. It’s a really fun chapter to read. I hope your readers agree with me.

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

My goal was to convey several messages about life and leadership in the context of a thrilling adventure. It is important to me to pass on to young aspiring leaders the lessons I’ve learned about leadership from my days in the military and my years of teaching leadership skills in public and private companies.

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

I would never swim in the ocean unless the cruise ship sank. There are too many big and hungry creatures out there.

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

Italy! I love the food. It’s the best on the planet.

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

For sure I’m a morning person. I wake between 5-6am most days.

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

I was a dreamer but more of a schemer.

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

My wish would be that God would bring peace to our fractured world.

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

Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me.

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postheadericon Understanding the Economic Basics and Modern Capitalism Book Feature


Understanding the EconomicTitle:
 Understanding the Economic Basics and Modern Capitalism
Author: Dan Blatt
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 558
Genre: Business/Economics
Format: Ebook/Paperback
Purchase at AMAZON

UNDERSTANDING of the economic successes and failures of the past century and today begins here.

Dan Blatt, after almost a half-century of accurate published economic forecasts, examines history’s most important economic works. He shows why capitalist market mechanisms successfully raise billions out of poverty and why socialist and other administered alternatives flourish briefly and then collapse.

UNDERSTANDING begins with the basic texts:

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith;
The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, by David Ricardo;
Capital (Das Kapital), by Karl Marx;
The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, by John Maynard Keynes;
Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy by Joseph A. Schumpeter.

The analysis is readily comprehensible for college level readers and busy professionals. The style facilitates speed-reading and scanning but with liberal inclusion of quoted material covering the key ideas and most famous passages.

Understanding the Economic Basics and Modern Capitalism is your source for rapid familiarity with these basic works and the reasons for the repetitive failure of current economic policies.


Dan Blatt, a graduate of Brooklyn College and Harvard Law School, has been working for or writing about government agencies and policies for more than fifty years. His track record of accurate published economic forecasts began with the prescient book, “Dollar Devaluation” (1967). He is the author of “Understanding the Great Depression” (2009), and currently publishes “Futurecasts online magazine at

Dan is giving 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 one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins March 16 and ends on March 27.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, March 30.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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postheadericon Love Sci-Fi? Check out Prophase by Mitchel Street

Prophase Book Banner

ProphaseTitle: Prophase: A Present Tale
Author: M. Street
Publisher: Mitchel Street
Pages: 334
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Format: Kindle

Become swept away into a world of light just beyond our perception.

Piper Walker, a high school senior, has seen her share of hard times. At a young age, she lost her mother to breast cancer shortly after her brother Charlie was born. Raising her baby brother under the wrathful eye of an abusive and alcoholic father, she relies heavily on her small, but tight core of friends. Lisa, her best friend from kindergarten, and Chris, her longtime boyfriend, help to keep her above water. Along with her friends, Piper’s elderly neighbor, Ester, and her lynx point Siamese cat, Jazz, become the extended family she never had.

Even before her mom died, Piper always felt different. She was opposite of her popular best buddy Lisa, and didn’t enjoy doing what most other teenage girls liked to do. She wasn’t much for fixing up and thought hanging out was boring. Music and nature were her muses. Piper grew up next to a forest with countless paths, one of which led to the high school; the others to myriad of seasonal wonders. Piper spent countless hours in the woods exploring and finding solace in the trees, wild flowers, and every kind of animal. Although somewhat shy and insecure of her voice, Piper was lead vocals and a passionate bass player for a garage band called ‘The Coat Tails’ that consisted of Lisa, Chris, and their close friend Josh. Having never sounded better, they were sure to win the senior talent show.

After a Spring Fling dance, a near-death experience prematurely rebirths Piper to her destiny, for not even she knows who she really is. Her identity has remained buried deep for her protection. She awakens to a dimension where light laden with emotions emits from everything around her. Overnight, Piper and her world are transformed into something radically different. What she thought was real was only the beginning, a thin veneer to actual reality. Universal truths are turned upside down. She wakes to a magical world with an ancient history and kingdoms of races. Life becomes way more beautiful, complex, and breathtaking than she ever imagined.

A menagerie of supernatural and metallic gleaming mythical characters come to assist Piper to take her first steps in her new world and keep her safe. The realm of brilliant auras, feelings, and endless color surround her creating a language she doesn’t understand. She begins a long journey to discovering and mastering her powers and senses that defy fantasy. Riding gravity waves, casting spells, and leaping to exotic locations become her new curriculum.

However, amongst the Eden lies a fatal danger. For centuries, a tyrannical rule has suppressed and strangled the enchanted world she is now part of. A most brilliant Guardian, named Eli, and his council, the Arbitri, have become the only voice. Evolution has stopped. Only Piper has the power to bring about change.

Amongst the unspeakable beauty, unknown danger, and the desire to find out who she really is, Piper stumbles upon an unexplainable, first-time love that becomes the only thing that she can cling to in her stormy and unexpected life. From the first time his voice dances on her ear drums, she is taken by something wonderfully unreal.

Piper now must juggle her two worlds – and disguise her increasing abilities and morphing appearance while attempting to be the slightly nerdy teenager everyone knows.

This story captivates the imagination with the beauty of nature and the celebration of love, life, and light – and the power of one girl.

For More Information

  • Prophase is available at Amazon
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.


M. Street is an avid storyteller with an innate passion for fiction writing. He was raised in rural Wisconsin near the shores of Lake Michigan across from a small forest that became his second home. As an adult, M. Street has lived on the East Coast in Boston, on the West Coast in San Jose, and now resides South, in the great city of Austin, TX. A love for nature, art, spirituality, and science has been his foundation. He has been fortunate to have been adopted by cats, dogs, birds, frogs, turtles, and Monarch butterflies. His professional background is rooted in Engineering having earned a graduate degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is technically published (under a different name). He is currently creating Metaphase and Anaphase/Telophase, the follow on to Interphase/Prophase, part of the Mitosis series.

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postheadericon Interview with Helga Stipa Madland, author of ‘You’re Not From Around Here, Are You?’

Helga MadlandHelga Stipa Madland was born in Upper Silesia and emigrated to the United States with her family in 1954. She has three children and six grandchildren. She is Professor Emerita at the University of Oklahoma and is the author of academic and other books. Her husband, Richard Beck, teaches Ancient Greek at OU in Norman, OK, where they live with a dachshund and four cats.

Her latest book is the memoir, You’re Not From Around Here, Are You?: Reminiscences.

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About the Book:

You're Not From Around Here Are You 3Title: You’re Not From Around Here, Are You? Reminiscences
Author: Helga Stipa Madland
Publisher: Aventine Press
Pages: 202
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle

I start with when I was born, then there was a World War, and then I went to Norman.—Klodnitz, in Upper Silesia, now a part of Poland, was my birth place; when everything collapsed in 1945 at the end of WWII, my family and I became refugees. We trekked across Germany, to the west, and eventually settled in a small village and then another one. Next was Canada, then the United States, Missouri; eventually we settled in Idaho, where my Father, who was a forester, found a job. I did not stop there! I was married and continued my merry journey, California, back to three different cities in Idaho, and later Seattle, where I earned a PhD. My children were grown by then, I was alone and ready to find a position. That’s when I ended up at the University of Oklahoma in 1981, and have been here ever since.

For More Information

  • You’re Not From Around Here, Are You? Reminiscences is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

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

I was born in Upper Silesia, now a part of Poland, have lived in Germany, Canada, and several states in the US. Have been in Norman, OK since 1981.

Q: How did you come up with your title?

My title “You’re Not From Around Here, Are You? Reminiscences” is a question I was asked after I had returned to Norman from a trip to Germany. I was asked the same question in Germany.

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

My cover was designed by Ryan Ratliff, graphic artist at Aventine Press. I provided the photo of me taken by my husband at Tulum, Mexico. It definitely looks like it is not from around here. My husband, Richard, also took the photo of our cat, Gretel, who adorns the back of the book.

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

My book is about a German girl who became a refugee and immigrant, got married, had children, was divorced, and ended up as a Professor of German Literature, with a husband, grandchildren, a dachshund and five cats. I try to keep my sense of humor about everything.

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

I did not consciously consider messages, but now when I think about, let me just say: “Learn another language.” I started taking English in fifth grade in school in Germany, and it certainly came in handy when we moved to Canada and the United States.

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

Maybe my description of American soldiers moving into the large yard of the forestry house where we stayed for a while in northern Germany! Why? Because it has stayed extremely lively in my mind since 1945!

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

Family and friends frequently asked when I would write my memoirs. Finally, I did.

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

I love dirty martinis, lots of them, and marzipan.

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

To Machu Pichu in Peru, but there are so many other places too!

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

Definitely a night person! I get up around 10:30 and stay up until midnight or one o’clock.

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

My son, Pat Madland, is a very good writer; maybe when he retires, he will take it up seriously.

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

A dreamer and a doer! I wanted to see what was behind the mountains, so I climbed a lot of trees.

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

I am retired and would like to live on a cruise ship, please, dear genie!

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

It’s time to have some marzipan, and keep writing until you are done!


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postheadericon Talking Books with Ameila Ford, author of #romantic #suspense ‘Tagan’s Child’

Amelia FordAmelia Ford lives in Kent, UK with her husband, three children and a variety of four legged and feathered friends. Tagan’s Child is her debut novel. She is working on her second novel due to be released later this year.

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

Canterbury, Kent, UK.

Q: How did you come up with your title?

One of the key story lines centers around a boy with an extraordinary heritage. He is the son of Tagan Halsan hence Tagan’s Child.

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

I designed the cover. As soon as I started to write the book I had a very clear idea of what I wanted it to look like. Whilst the book is essentially a romantic suspense it does have a sci-fi twist and I think the cover sums this up nicely without giving too much away.

Tagan's Child 2Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

In the UK it has received over 100 reviews and 86 of them are 5* ;)

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

Live for the day, don’t dwell on the past or future.

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

This is so hard, I enjoyed every second of writing it, but if you had to tie me down it would be…chapter 3, when Sophie meets Ahran for the first time.

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

At the time, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to read so I decided to write the kind of book that I enjoy. Once I started, I couldn’t stop.

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

I love a blanket, summer or winter!

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

There are so many beautiful places I would like to visit. The beaches of Thailand would probably be my first stop.

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

Neither. I like my sleep too much!

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

My 10 year old son.

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

No, I was a girly swot. I loved school.

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

As corny as it sounds it would be world peace. There is far too much war for my liking.

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

Ok, so these aren’t my words but they resonate with me. “The magic is in you. There ain’t no crystal ball.” – Dolly Parton. Wise Dolly…sigh J

Best wishes

Amelia Ford x

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postheadericon In the Spotlight: Galadria: Peter Huddleston & The Knights of the Leaf

Galadria 3Title: Galadria: Peter Huddleston & The Knights of the Leaf
Author: Miguel Lopez de Leon
Publisher: Galadria Worldwide
Pages: 148
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Paperback/Kindle

In book three of Miguel Lopez de Leon’s Galadria fantasy series, GALADRIA: PETER HUDDLESTON & THE KNIGHTS OF THE LEAF, Peter and his family command a mystical cast of powerful, exciting new characters in their war against the blood-thirsty tyrant, Knor Shadowray.

Reviewers of book three of the GALADRIA trilogy praise the author’s stunning artistry and skill:

“A grand finish to a YA trilogy that never fails to challenge audience expectations.”–Kirkus Reviews

“With the close of his Galadria trilogy, Miguel Lopez de Leon packs battles, travel and adventure into a story that’s ultimately about family ties.”–BlueInk Review

“Once again, the writing in this book is superb and the story is fast paced and action packed.”–SPR Review

In book one of the trilogy, GALADRIA: PETER HUDDLESTON & THE RITES OF PASSAGE, 12-year-old Peter leaves his friendless, uneventful life in the suburbs and suddenly finds himself spending the summer chomping down magical chocolates and tossing around an enchanted boomerang at Hillside Manor, the 3000 room home of his aunt Gillian Willowbrook. While there, Peter learns he is the next in line to the throne of a magnificent realm called Galadria where his aunt is queen. His position is being challenged by a ruthless nobleman, Knor Shadowray.

Book two, GALADRIA: PETER HUDDLESTON & THE MISTS OF THE THREE LAKES shows Peter struggling to play the role of a prince. After being accepted as the heir of the Golden Realm, his new challenge is to gain command of Galadrian princely etiquette and survive dangerous adventures with his fearless white tiger, Rune. At a parade held in his honor, Peter and his aunt are violently ambushed by a band of screeching monstrosities and a merciless dark army led by the fiendish Knor Shadowray.

In the final book in the Galadria series, GALADRIA: PETER HUDDLESTON & THE KNIGHTS OF THE LEAF, the story continues where book two left off: Knor Shadowray’s relentless attack on the ruling Willowbrook family. In a desperate attempt to save her kingdom, Queen Gillian Willowbrook sends Peter and his grandfather to the Forests of Fernell to recruit a multitude of diverse warriors to defend the crown. Populated with serpent priestesses, nature-loving knights, magical weapons, paper-thin tree nymphs, and political fairies, the final installment of the Galadria trilogy shows the Galadrian populace at their breaking point as the realm explodes into a full-fledged civil war. A flurry of riotous battles are fought against the villainous Knor Shadowray’s ambitious attempt to capture the crown of Galadria.

De Leon developed the GALADRIA series out of a love of the fantasy genre and the thrill of creating “new worlds, creatures, and story lines…enhanced with magic and otherworldly mystery.” The trilogy also tells the coming-of-age story of aboy as he learns to accept himself and discovers the family he never believed he would have. “The Galadria trilogy is mainly about a lonely boy who, through overcoming obstacles, finds out who he really is. I think everyone has an element of the extraordinary in them, and I hope Peter’s story shows that,” de Leon says.

For More Information

  • Galadria: Peter Huddleston & The Knights of the Leaf is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
  • Watch his book video at YouTube.

Book Excerpt:

(From Chapter Nine)

As the group of adventurers strode onward into the thick, soupy fog that seemed to encompass the entire valley, Peter distinctly noticed that it had gotten much colder. The plants around them looked putrid and gnarled, more like grotesque weeds than flourishing plant life, and the few pathetic trees that grew from the muddy earth were blackened, leafless, and hard. Covering everything was a thick, palpable, unmoving stew of mist, thin in some parts, thicker in others, but certainly everywhere. The entire cursed area smelled like rotting fruit … a moldy, sick, sweet smell that made Peter feel completely nauseated.

With Bastian in the lead, his shield positioned firmly in front of him, the ambitious group continued moving steadily forward. Suddenly, the young knight raised up his hand, halting his other companions.

“Crouch down on the ground, now!” Bastian whispered, quickly lowering himself to the soft earth. “Use the shrubs and fog as cover … Quiet … Don’t move!”

Peter, Henry, and Restella dropped to the ground behind a cluster of decrepit shrubs, careful not to make a sound. Sabasti silently slithered up next to them, before remaining completely still.

Seconds passed, as Bastian continued to peer intently in front of them. Peter was gazing in the same direction as the young knight but saw nothing through the relentless thick mist. A few moments later, Peter started to hear strange clicking sounds growing louder and louder. Straining to make out the source of the mysterious sounds, Peter had to stifle his shock, when a huge garish monstrosity suddenly became visible through the thick, vaporous haze around them. To Peter, it looked like a gigantic dark blue lobster, as big as an elephant, completely covered in little jagged horns protruding from all over its enormous body. The terrifying beast had two huge clicking lobster claws and a long armored tail, which ended in an odd plume of slimy black feathers. The strange monster moved startlingly fast, and just as quickly as it had appeared, so too did it turn back and vanish from sight. As soon as Bastian signaled that it was safe, the silent group continued to soldier

“What was that?” Peter whispered to Bastian, as they made their way forward.

“I’m honestly not sure,” the young knight answered, still scanning the surrounding area. “As protectors and preservers of nature, the Knights of the Leaf are familiar with most of the creatures that inhabit our forests, but we rarely travel this far into the Darkened Valley. We’re not sure why, but we’ve discovered that most of the creatures that choose to live near the wraiths’ dwelling seem to mutate … some to the point of being unrecognizable. I’ve never seen anything like what we just saw … It didn’t even look close to any other species I’m familiar with.”

And so they trudged on, futilely trying to ignore the increasing cold that was steadily

escalating around them.

Suddenly, the group halted, as a high, feminine voice abruptly pierced the chilly air.

“H-help me … ,” the voice cried out. “P-please … I need help …”

As Peter and his companions moved forward, they encountered a small waiflike woman,

with beautiful pale skin and silky black hair, kneeling on the ground. She was wearing nothing more than a slip of a white dress and seemed to have injured her ankle.

“Are you hurt … ,” Peter began, taking a step toward the wounded young woman.

In unison, Sabasti began to hiss violently, as Restella quickly grabbed Peter’s arm. “Stop,

Your Highness!” the priestess demanded, her yellow eyes focused on the woman in front of them.

“Something is wrong. This woman is not what she seems …”


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postheadericon Book Spotlight: Terror Never Sleeps by Richard Blomberg

Terro Never Sleeps (updated)
TitleTerror Never Sleeps
Book 2: Jack Gunn Thriller Series
Author: Richard Blomberg
Publisher: Beaver’s Pond Press
Publication Date: February 15, 2015
Pages: 337
ISBN: 978-1592988952
Genre: Military Thriller / Suspense
Format: Paperback, eBook (.mobi / Kindle), PDF
Navy SEAL Jack Gunn’s life is turned upside down when terrorists kidnap his family and disappear without a trace. While Jack and his team search frantically for clues in Virginia, half-way around the world, his wife, Nina struggles to survive the terrorist’s daily persecutions as his hostage.
Terror Never Sleeps is an action-packed tale of Nina’s transformation into a warrior who is fighting for her life, and Jack’s relentless pursuit of the terrorists from Mali to Diego Garcia to Pakistan. A military coup, propaganda, dirty bombs, and the launch of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal with one target—Israel—is all part of the terrorist’s master plan, who are hellbent on blowing the world back to the eighth century. The non-stop action keeps the reader constantly off balance with the bizarre and unexpected.
Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Dawley Corners, VA

“I’m scared, Mommy.” Barett sat back up in bed, clutching his dinosaur pillow under one arm and his frayed security blanket under the other.

“Don’t cry, honey. Daddy will be home tomorrow.” Nina brushed her son’s tears aside with her fingers, cupped his tender face in her hands, and gave him a kiss on the forehead. She inhaled the scent of baby shampoo from his tangled wet hair and snuggled him to her chest. Barett’s Mickey Mouse night-light cast a buttery glow across the carpet. A constellation of

fluorescent stars and planets were already glued to the ceiling of his brand-new bedroom and floating like luminous jellyfish in the dark above.

“But what if the bad guys kill Daddy?” Barett chewed on the fringe of his blanket.

“Nobody’s going to kill Daddy,” Nina quickly answered for the umpteenth time as she stroked his black hair. Barett nodded, locked on Nina’s eyes. She closed the bedtime storybook and put it back on the nightstand.

Barett’s lower lip quivered. “What if you die, Mommy? I heard you and Daddy talking.” He started crying again.

Nina gasped. “You don’t need to worry anymore, sweetie. Mommy’s cancer is all gone.” She crossed her hands across her chest and threw them up into the air. “Poof! And Daddy is a brave Sioux, just like you.” She poked Barett in the chest. “If the president of the United States trusts Daddy to protect his country, I don’t think we need to worry.”

Sorrow instantly overwhelmed Nina, sad that Barett’s last thoughts before falling asleep were to fear for his mommy’s and daddy’s lives—even though Nina frequently cried herself to sleep with those same fears. Barett, Nina’s angel throughout her chemotherapy, reached up and brushed her tears away with his baby-soft fingers as he had done so many times before.

If Jack was Nina’s soul mate, Barett was her heart mate. Nina’s first pregnancy ended horribly with a devastating and unexpected miscarrage. Her second ended the same way. So after nine months of living on the jittery edge of sanity, wondering what would go wrong the third time around, Barett was her gift from God who miraculously joined the world on Nina’s twentysixth

birthday. She loved her little bear more than anything. She loved Barett more than Jack.

Trying to stay strong and keep up a good front for Barett while Jack was away, Nina snatched the dreamcatcher hanging from a tack in the wall above Barett’s pillow and fanned his face with its eagle feathers as if she were trying to start a fire.

“Remember, Uncle Travis had a very special medicine man make this to protect you from bad dreams.” She tickled his chest until he giggled.

“He’s funny.”

“Now go to sleep, honey. Daddy will be home tomorrow.” She leaned over and gave him one last kiss.

Nina left his door half open, just how Barett liked, and went downstairs to lock up for the night. Everything in their condominium smelled fresh and new. The paint on the walls, the polish on the floors, and the carpet on the stairs. It was their first home and their first mortgage. Nina smiled, thinking of her husband, Jack, and how he had gone over the top to buy the most

expensive door and window locks.

Being a Navy SEAL and the head of the Counterterrorism Task Force (CTF) made it nearly impossible for Jack Gunn to trust anyone. The only people he trusted were the other SEALs on his Ghost Team and Native Americans, like Nina and him.

“I’m not going to be a prisoner in my own home, Jack. Spend all the money on locks and guns and whatever else you think we need, but take a look around. We’re not living in Afghanistan.” Nina had opened the blind so Jack could look out and see their front yard of new sod, their one-inch elm sapling held vertical by three posts and gardening wire, and the empty lots across the street staked out for new construction. No one else had even moved into their

building yet. They had first pick in the new ocean-view community in Dawley Corners, south of Virginia Beach.

“This is what I’ve always wanted, Jack,” Nina had told him. “I know it’s not Montana, but there’s no place I’d rather be.”

“The perimeter is secure,” she could almost hear Jack saying.

Her smile vanished as she pulled back a corner of the curtain and watched a windowless panel van slowly cruise past their condo. It was the type of hammer-and-nail-laden van construction crews drove through their neighborhood on a daily basis, but not after dark at nine thirty on a Saturday night.

There was something about the van that sent a shiver up her spine as it crawled around the cul-de-sac and came back. She let the sheer curtain fall back into place and watched the headlights. They stopped at the end of Nina’s driveway. With a growl of the engine, smoke puffed from the tail pipe into the chilled air. Now hiding behind the front door, she began to hyperventilate as she fought off the suffocating feeling of panic.

Nina felt guilty for cowering like a scared little girl. She knew if Jack were home, he would have put one of his patented kill looks on his face, stomped out the front door, and challenged the guys in the truck. He did stuff like that all the time. Most of the time, the other guys took off before he got close enough to do any harm; he looked that intimidating. Far from being politically correct, Jack was the man who backed down to nobody. Who feared nobody. Who suspected everybody.

Nina swallowed hard, checked the lock, and glanced up the stairs to make sure Barett was still in bed. Fingers trembling, she fumbled to get her cell phone out of her pocket to call Jack, but dropped it. Pieces of plastic and glass blasted in every direction, like a grenade exploding in the dark, when it hit the porcelain tile.

“Oh my God!” she gasped. That was her only phone. The van still rumbled in the street, not moving. She made out the silhouette of a stocking-capped, bearded man in the passenger seat. Her brain swelled like an expanding water balloon between her ears.

“Think, dammit. Think.” She heard Jack’s words reverberating in her head. It was late Saturday night, her phone was trashed, their home Internet was not scheduled to be activated until Monday, which had not been a big deal because her smartphone functioned as a mobile hot spot for her laptop. All that had changed the instant her phone crashed.

Her feet felt as if they were stuck in cement, nailing her to the floor behind the door.

“The gun. I’ve got to get the gun.”

She looked through the curtain at the van one last time, then stumbled up the stairs, went into their bedroom closet, and turned on the light. The gun safe still had the manufacturer’s stickers on the anodized steel door.

She dialed three numbers stuck in her head. Nothing. She tried again. Nothing. The combination to the safe lay splayed across the entryway floor downstairs in a worthless cell phone microchip.

A noise outside spooked her. Her fingers trembled on the dial.

She tried the lock one last time and prayed. “Hallelujah!” The door opened. She grabbed the loaded shotgun. Jack always said it was the best gun for home protection. Point the scattergun in the general direction of your target and pull the trigger. It would blow a hole in the door the size of a basketball.

Nina had pulled the trigger on a shotgun once before. She blasted tin cans and beer bottles with her brothers back at the reservation garbage dump in Montana when she was a kid. The gun kicked like a mule and knocked her on her butt. It seemed funny at the time.

She flipped the safety off, racked a shell into the chamber, turned off the light, and tiptoed back out of the closet. The gun went first, with Nina’s slippery finger on the trigger. Her eyes dilated to adjust back to the dark.

The condo was too new. Nothing looked familiar. Every shadow, every noise made her jump. The furnace kicked in. The bedroom curtain fluttered over the heat duct. She heard a noise in the hallway. Nina opened the door with the gun barrel.


“Barett. Oh my God. I almost . . .” She covered her mouth, overcome by a sudden wave of nausea. Nina swallowed hard to push the bile back down as she propped the gun up against the wall behind the door, out of Barett’s sight. She grabbed Barett, hugged him hard, and carried him back to his room. “Stay in bed, honey. Mommy will be right back.”

Nina snatched the gun with her shaking, sweaty hands and quickly crept back down the carpeted stairs, trying her best to keep quiet.

The front door was still locked. The van was gone. She held the shotgun against her chest and fixed her eyes on the doorknob, dreading movement of any kind. Her heart raced as she waited in the dark.

The wind blew. The furnace kicked off. The doorknob did nothing.

She turned on the entryway light and scraped together all the pieces of her phone.

I can’t call the police. The phone lines are down till Monday. I can’t call or text Jack. He’ll be pissed. It was probably nothing. No need to get all worked up. Just go to bed. Get a new cell phone in the morning before Jack gets home. And put that stupid gun away before you shoot someone.



Buy The Book:
About The Author
Dr. Richard Blomberg has practiced anesthesia in the land of 10,000 lakes for twenty years. He grew up in an Iowa farm town, the oldest of ten, before serving as a Navy hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War. For generations, Richard’s family has proudly served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa and currently lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and family, where he is working on his next Jack Gunn thriller.
To learn more about the author, sign up for his newsletter, read his blog, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Connect with Richard:
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