Monday, 30 September 2013

Free Alert - What Lies Inside by J.L. Myers


“Just a minute, Amelia,” Mom’s voice jarred me to a standstill on the porch.

Sheltered by the roofline’s shadow she produced a small cylindrical tube from the pocket of her designer sweats. After waiting up all night so she could see us off on our first day of school, she was ready to sleep through her first day. It was preparation for her new position at the Portsmouth Vampire Council, which began each weekday after twilight.

I snatched the tube from between her fingers and lifted it to eye level. “Nasal decongestant?” I questioned incredulously. “I just want to be invisible. But everyone is already going to be looking at the weird new girl. Now you want them to think I’m a dweeb too?”

“It’s menthol.” Mom shrugged. “I thought it might help distract your sense of smell.”

With a groan, I let Mom hug me. Then I retreated to the car, shoving the nasal tube into the glove box. There was no way in hell anyone was going to see me using that thing. Dorian was already in the driver’s seat, warming up the engine, as he always did.

“We’re not ready.” I glared at the opulent French mansion—our new home—shrinking in the rear-view mirror. Apparently Uncle Caius had a lot more money than I’d realized.

It was a double-story, with a mixture of stone and beige-rendered walls, soaring windows, and high ceilings inside. Acres of green land surround its walls, back-bordered by a thick shelter of oaks. There was a stone-bordered gate that fronted the property, offering a scenic view of the rolling swells of Rye Beach. Just watching the mansion shrink as we drove away made me long for the cabin. There I had felt safe, from myself. This mansion was too big, too cold. It could never feel like home. It could never feel safe.

The move had been inevitable. Kendrick had brainwashed Joel into believing he’d been attacked by a rabid dog. Being a Pure Blood, his ability to compel was stronger than any turned vamp’s. Still, Mom and Uncle Caius were worried that me being anywhere near Joel would break the compulsion and endanger our secret lives. So they weren’t about to take any chances. Our destination had been decided with a job offer. Uncle Caius wanted Mom on the Vampire Council in Portsmouth. With a little encouragement, she’d agreed. It was one of many sub councils that operated around the world in service to The Armaya, the epicenter of vampire legislation and politics. As the only surviving Pure Blood of his lineage, our uncle held a seat there on The Armaya’s Royal Vampire Council. After that our move had been arranged to the small, sleepy town of Rye, bordering Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

More than six months had passed at the cabin. It was hundreds of miles from our old home in Anchorage, and hidden amongst the wilderness of the Alaska Range. As Caius had predicted, Dorian began the transformation soon after our retreat. I couldn’t hide my relief at his fading fear of me. We were one and the same, cut from the same cloth, and now we shared a secret. The thing we had become.

“We are ready,” Dorian countered. “And you heard Mom. We passed all the tests successfully.”

With an irritated breath, I turned and stared out the window as manicured trees fronting oversized, gated properties passed by. Yesterday Mom admitted to the tests she had planned to assess our self-control. I had been beyond pissed. Still, no amount of arguing could change her mind. Now Dorian’s laid-back attitude was beginning to grate on my nerves. I clenched and unclenched my hands. “So we didn’t attack and kill a few delivery men. So what? How does that compare to a classroom full of blood-pumping human bodies?”

“Amelia,” Dorian said, glancing in the vanity mirror backing the sun visor. He ran a hand through his thick, dark hair to re-shape it. “We’ll be fine.” He looked at me sideways and smiled. “You know, you’re stronger than you give yourself credit for.”

I crossed my arms over my chest, doubting Dorian’s faith in me. How could he truly believe that after everything that happened?

When we first relocated to the cabin, Mom and had taught us to hunt. We started with herds of Caribou, graduating to more challenging prey like packs of wolves, and even the elusive mountain lion. Kendrick, between frequent snowboarding breaks, had come hunting too. But I had detested the whole process. How could honing our predatory instincts make us safer around humans? But as my natural desires took over, I became thrilled by the chase, my muscles snapping into action and my fangs ready and waiting. After each hunt, each kill, the thrill would dissipate, replaced by a body-shaking guilt. My speed, strength, and lust for blood proved beyond any and all doubt that I truly was a monster, and I always would be.

I took reprieve from one fact alone. Vampires weren’t immortal. Our lifespans were extended, but I wouldn’t forever be this bloodthirsty creature, a killer. One day I would die.

I pulled my New Student packet out of my bag and began memorizing my three-week class rotation and the school map. The last thing I wanted was to have to ask for directions.

A moment later Dorian turned off Ocean Boulevard onto the private, gated entrance of our new school, St. Volaras. It was the best private school in the area, holding over five hundred students. The size of the student body alone only unnerved me further. Today would be an assault of temptation from unknowing victims. And, if I did lose it, there would be countless witnesses that no amount of compulsion could cover up.

Dorian revved the engine of our turbo-charged Audi Cabriolet. He dropped back to second gear, following the line of high-end cars through the student parking lot. The A5 was a joint birthday present from our uncle Caius. It was a reward for coming so far in our ability to restrain.

Every part of me hated the car and everything it represented, everything it reminded me of. I glared at Dorian, knowing he’d revved the engine to draw attention. I hated that he was so confident and self-assured, when all I wanted to do was remain invisible.

Dorian ignored my glare and pulled into a spot rearing the lot, before jumping out of the car.

I sat without moving, wishing I could just disappear. Then Dorian poked his head back through the driver’s side door. “You can’t stay here all day.”

I bit the inside of my cheek. “Wanna bet?”

“C’mon,” Dorian said, rolling his eyes. “Don’t make me drag you to class kicking and screaming.”

Although his tone was joking, I didn’t doubt his threat. He was set on the idea of a normal life, and wasn’t about to let me mess that up for him. Cursing him under my breath, I snatched my bag from the back seat. Outside I yanked my hoodie over my head. It was my favorite jacket, black cotton with a detachable hood. If it had been made of leather it would have been perfect for riding a motorbike.

I got out of the car and froze. Students littered the parking lot. To me they resembled herding bovine, blissfully unaware and ripe for the picking. I groaned, picking up a scent that was all too familiar these days. Human blood. In the cool morning air it was faint, but still distinct.

“If I were you, I’d wipe that look off your face.” Dorian stepped in front of me, blocking my view of a group of preppy-looking girls. “People are beginning to stare.”

I looked away from the clustering students, refocusing on Dorian’s piercing silver-blue irises. They were now the same color as mine, and from what we’d been told, a consistent vampire trait. “What look?”

Dorian smiled, lips parting to reveal the points of his fangs. “That crazed, I’m so starving I could eat you, look.”

My jaw dropped then quickly clamped shut. I couldn’t even control my expression? There was no way I could do this!

“Yes you can.” Dorian clearly knew me too well. “Look, Amelia,” he said more seriously. “We can have a normal life. You can. This is just the first step. Will you just try, for me? You know I can’t do this without you.”

With a deep breath, I planted my hands on my hips. I knew Dorian was using emotional blackmail, but I caved anyway. “Okay. But if I kill anyone, I’m blaming you.”

Dorian roped his arm through mine and yanked me forward to walk alongside him. “Your murder is my condemnation. Got it.”

As we headed to the main building, I held my breath. My sight rose above the heads of surrounding students. The building was three levels of brick, with rectangular windows and tall glass doors. Dorian was already checking out the surrounding female members of the student body. I wasn’t beyond counting bricks for a distraction. Before I could begin, someone darted in front of us.

The boy’s scent—if you could call him a boy, with his over-developed muscle mass—reached my nostrils instantly. It was fiery and sweet, and somehow different from any human’s I had ever picked up on. The urge to extend my fangs pulled at me from within. I swallowed, struggling to push the sensation back.

The boy edged forward. His tan face was frozen with a threatening scowl, and his hands curled into fists. “Go back to where you came from,” he snarled through tight lips. “You’re not welcome here.”

Dorian instinctively tensed and released my arm, ready to take action. But before he could even utter a word, the boy turned and stalked away.

Dorian shrugged his shoulders “What was that about?”

A startling realization struck me. “He could tell. He knows what we are.”

Dorian laughed, pulling me aside to let passing students through the main doors. “You take paranoia to a whole new level, sis.”

Certain belting him would draw attention I held back the urge. Instead I settled for a piercing look that I wished could kill, or at least inflict torturous pain. “I’m paranoid?”

Dorian waved his hands in a half-assed surrender. “C’mon, you know I didn’t mean it like that. That jerk is probably just a dumb jock, pumped up on steroids.”

I wasn’t convinced, but Dorian was already past the incident and busy catching the eye of a pretty girl. He glanced down at his watch. “Classes start in five. So go, get settled. I’ll see you at lunch.” He pushed me through the glass doors winking, before backing away in the opposite direction. “You’ll be fine. I promise.”

I sucked in a quick, deep breath and held it. My lungs ached in protest. Students swarmed the foyer. I pushed past them, bounding up the stairs to the second floor. Psychology was first up. I shot through the door to room 2.6, taking a vacant desk. It was by one of a handful of windows that lined the far wall. With my lungs contracting and on the verge of forcing me to breathe, I dumped my bag on the desk and threw open the glass barrier. Poking my head out into the cool autumn air, I sucked in a much needed ragged breath.

Whispers about the ‘new girl’, were hot on every student’s lips. Vampire hearing, lucky me! This day just kept getting better. They thought I was strange, a total weirdo. And who could blame them? I was acting like a freak!

Shrinking back into my seat, I kept my head down with my hoodie sheltering my face. My long hair hung as a solid barrier between me and them. The scent of fresh blood intensified as more and more students filled the classroom. There was nothing I could do in this setting to dull it. But I could drown out their chatter.

I pulled my iPod from my backpack, plugging the earbuds into my ears. It was jam-packed with music from all my favorite bands: Red, Skillet, Three Days Grace and Lifehouse, just to name a few. It used to have pop music too, but since discovering my darker side my taste in music had followed suit, and the urge to dance wildly in the privacy of my room no longer felt uplifting. In spite of that, I smiled. The cover was new, glossy purple—my favorite color, which in the right dark shade was nowhere near being girly pink, ick! It had been a parting gift from Kendrick who’d uploaded the new Three Days Grace album. My heart squeezed, wishing he were here.

Still able to scent the students, I stifled a groan. My arms coiled around my waist, nails pricking my sides and breaking the skin. The distraction helped, just enough to keep me cemented in my seat, until the classroom door opened again.

In an instant, the energy in the small room shifted. I removed my earbuds. The gossip on everyone’s lips had faltered.

Then it hit me. The same unique, fiery, sweet scent of blood I had encountered not five minutes earlier. No…not him again.

Against my better judgment, I brushed my hair behind my ears and dared to glance up. My world froze. Any remaining chatter became irrelevant as I stared on. Standing in the doorway was not the boy who had threatened Dorian and me. This boy had similarly colored satin-black hair, styled into messy, loose spikes. His charcoal V-neck shirt acted like a second skin, clinging to reveal a sculpted torso. The light from fluorescents bolted to the grated ceiling bounced off his bronzed arms, offering shadowed definition to his protruding biceps and numerous…scars? Nudging recognition tickled at the back of my subconscious. I couldn’t rip my eyes away. I’ve seen him before.

The boy caught sight of me as he entered the room, and stalled. His honey-glazed eyes, rimmed with iridescent green, widened.

Somehow able to move again, I averted my eyes. But it was already too late. I could hear the heavy steps of hunting boots closing in on me. A hard lump crawled up my throat and my heart-rate increased. The potency of his fiery scent soared. It invaded my lungs and made my mouth water. He was close, way too close. With a throat-constricting gulp, I tried and failed to force my lust for his blood back down. Then I blinked up to meet his curious gaze.

“Hi. You’re new.” His tone was steady, maybe even friendly. Yet there was visible conflict in his eyes.

“Uh huh,” I replied, as a telltale tingle ran along my gums. No, please. Not now. I could practically taste the hot sweetness of his blood on my tongue and hear the irregular beat of his strong pulse. A sequence of events flashed manically through my mind. I saw myself leaping over the desk in one swift move and sinking my now fully extended fangs into his neck. Control yourself! I pinned my lips together, concealing my fangs. My nails dug into the cushioned seat, acting as an anchor to stop me from acting out the deadly fantasy still reeling through my mind. For a second I longed for the nasal tube stashed back in the car.

“I’m Ty Malau,” he said, iridescent eyes narrowing at me.

Uncomfortable silence thickened the air as he watched me, waiting for a polite introduction. It was clear he had no plan to let me be until I spoke. So I looked away, covering my fanged mouth with one hand. Through my barricading fingers, I managed to croak out, “Amelia Athobry-Lamont.”

“It’s nice to finally meet you, Amelia,” Ty said.

My eyes shot back to his smiling face. Finally? There hadn’t been any kind of emphasis on the word, but something about it, or maybe even the sentence he’d used it in, bothered me. Was I reading too much into this? Something about him seemed so inexplicably familiar. But for the life of me, I couldn’t place him.

Ty motioned to the spare seat beside me with a scarred hand. “Mind if I sit?”

My tongue floated in a pool of expectant saliva and my hands began to tremble. They were still clutching the cushioned chair for dear life. The threat of release was growing. Please, just leave me alone. I knew if he didn’t walk away soon, I would lose all control. Ty shifted his weight from one leg to the other. I could almost feel the growth of anxiety rippling in waves off his body. Shit! I mentally slapped myself. I’m staring at him like he’s something to eat. Look away, dammit! With great strain, I forced my eyes away from his perfectly symmetrical features, and down onto my iPod, wishing again for Kendrick.

A quiet grunt emerged from Ty’s throat. “Never mind….”

His retreat to the other side of the classroom dulled the overwhelming punch of his blood. With his scent around me fading and my fangs retracting, I allowed my lungs to breathe again. The short, testing breaths relieved some of the involuntary reactions to his proximity. I could still smell his blood, as well as the other students. But I took a sliver of comfort from the fact that I had managed to control myself, just enough not to turn this room into a bloody massacre…yet.

The classroom chatter had resumed. It seemed almost everyone had been watching Ty and me with bated breath, and now it was all they could talk about.

I plugged my earbuds back in and dropped my head against my bag. My eyes squeezed shut. “You’ll be fine,” Dorian had promised. A silent laugh vibrated my chest. Yeah right!

What Lies Inside

Free until 30 September 2013

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Genre – YA Paranormal Romance

Rating – PG-13+

More details about the author and the book

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Author Interview – London Tracy

What is your new book about?

The Curse is a teleplay based on HBO’s hit series, Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Why did you choose this particular book?

I love the HBO TV series, Curb Your Enthusiasm and wanted to write an episode myself.

What do you hope people will take away from your writing?

I want people to find “The Curse” to be excruciatingly funny.

What motivates you to write?

Either my desire to write about an eccentric character or my desire to share something I have learned with the world.

What book genre of books do you adore?

I enjoy comedic fiction and I love self-improvement books.

What other jobs have you had in your life?

I used to work as a receptionist.

If you could study any subject at a university, what would it be?

I would study filmmaking.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I would have to say Paris.  It’s just such a beautiful place.

If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask?

I would have to say President Obama.

What’s your next project?

I am currently working on a reference book for writers.

The Curse

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Genre – Comedy

Rating – PG-13

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Sunday, 29 September 2013

Author Interview - Dylan Madrid

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Dylan Madrid. I live in the city of Denver, but I grew up in California. I am a full-time writer and a part-time teacher. When I'm not writing novels I instruct college courses in writing and the arts. Writing is my greatest passion, especially when I'm able to tell a wonderful love story.

What type of novels do you write? And why?

I write romance and suspense novels. There’s nothing like a good love story. And I feel there are not enough of them. I want my novels to remind readers that true love still exists in this world. There is beauty and tenderness in two people meeting, discovering a mutual attraction, and falling madly in love. Happily-ever-afters are possible if you find your soul mate. My novels are about that search and connection between two characters—the realization they’re meant for each other.

Describe your new novel Mind Fields in 30 words or less.

When college student Adam Parsh accepts a tutoring position, he finds himself the object of the dangerous desires of one of the most powerful men in the world – his married employer.

What makes Mine Fields special to you?

Aside from the fact it’s my first novel, there’s a morality in Mind Fields that I like. For the character of Adam, he really struggles with what’s right and wrong. He’s tempted every step of the way and has to decide between lust and love. The novel is about choices and consequences, a fact of life everyone deals with. I hope readers really connect with his dilemma. Although the novel is a sexy, suspenseful romance, there’s also a real gothic feeling to it. I was really inspired to write Mind Fields after rereading Northanger Abbey, my favorite novel by Jane Austen. You can see the influence of that novel in Mind Fields—this wild combination of darkness, lust, and intrigue.

What makes you happiest?

I have many things and people in my life that make me smile including: my wonderful partner Edward, my friends, my dog Lucy, my cat Phronsie, white carnations, board games, anything written by Dorothy Parker, white chocolate, Chicago at Christmas, the city of Brussels, iced nonfat Chai tea lattes, peanut butter M&M's, the success of my students, the sound of rain, the smell of gardenias, slow dances, and tacos.

What’s your greatest character strength?

Determination. Often in my life when opportunity is nowhere to be found, I create one.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

A lot of my story ideas come from music. I will hear a song – especially something with very memorable lyrics – and it will spark an emotion or an image in my mind. The ones that refuse to go away are the ones that make it onto paper – and often into print.

Mind Fields was greatly influenced by the songs Money Changes Everything by Cyndi Lauper and Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) by Nancy Sinatra. Both songs are referenced in the novel.

My upcoming novel Love in the Shadows was inspired by a dream I had, but there’s a song with the same title recorded by E.G. Daily and also by a band from Belfast called Circuit 21 that I listened to while writing the book.

My next novel Backstrokes was really inspired by the beautiful music of Elizaveta and my fear of water.

I am always very inspired by anything Lana Del Rey sings. She’s my musical muse.

Why do you write?

Writing is my greatest passion, especially when I'm able to tell a wonderful love story. My love for writing comes from my love for reading. I grew up reading fantastic novels. It didn’t take long for me to realize writing was my purpose.

Have you always enjoyed writing?

Absolutely. I’ve been writing since I was seven. I published my first short story when I was 15. Since then, I’ve never looked back. Writing brings me a deep satisfaction especially when something I’ve written connects with a reader on some level.

What motivates you to write?

With each novel I write, I aim to continue to improve and strengthen my craft. Receiving feedback from my readers also motivates me. When I receive a letter from a reader who expresses they’ve identified and connected with something I’ve created, as a writer I feel like I’ve done my job.

Mind Fields

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Genre - Gay Romance, Suspense

Rating – R

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Author Interview – Todd Cheney

What’s your weakest character trait?

Inconsistency in my habits. I tend not to keep up with things that I should.

What’s your greatest character strength?

I think my greatest strength is persistence. Even though I have fallen down so many times, I continue to try and do what needs to be done. I haven’t always had that but it’s been more and more clear that I should keep trying.

Is there any books you really don’t enjoy?

I’ve never quite gotten into crime drama or murder mystery. They just don’t spark my interest. Perhaps it’s because I don’t enjoy being reminded that murders do happen in the real world?

Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?

Well, I grew up in Wisconsin, USA and continue to live there. The farthest I’ve been as of this interview is Scotland. So I don’t consider myself the traveling type.

What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?

Unless you count self-publishing here, by far the hardest for me is getting published. It’s intimidating to realize how many writers there are in the world and how few of all the written books you are seeing when you go into the bookstore. That is a SMALL percentage of every written book, even current ones. It boggles the mind.

Do you find it hard to share your work?

Yes, but only because I feel I am always so close to it that it’s hard to not take criticism very personally, even if it’s meant to be constructive. If I were so dispassionate as to not be affected by negatives about the book from readers or reviewers, I shouldn’t have written anything in the first place. That kind of detachment will come off in the writing of the books.

Do you plan to publish more books?

If I could find the time or motivation to write more, then yes. I had planned more books but haven’t really started any lately.

What else do you do to make money, other than write? It is rare today for writers to be full time…

I’m also a computer programmer/IT specialist. I have a degree in this. I really enjoy it and it helps to pay the bills.

What other jobs have you had in your life?

I’ve worked anything from fast food to telemarketer to janitor. So I’ve been all over the map.

Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support?

My mother, of course. My writing wouldn’t be possible without her.

What makes you angry?

Feeling left out, shortchanged or generally ignored.

The Seventh Circle

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Genre - Fantasy

Rating – PG13

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J.L. Myers – Why Book Covers are So Important

Why Book Covers are So Important

Book covers are so important because they are they first thing a prospective reader will see. When someone is perusing bookshelves or searching on Amazon the first thing they see, along with the heading, is they cover. This is your first chance to show a potential reader what your book is about, and more importantly why they have to read YOUR book.

A book cover should give a feel for the world in which your story takes place, and for the characters that will live their lives through your words. A book cover should also display the genre clearly, whether it’s romance, paranormal, fantasy, crime or many of the non-fiction categories out there. Can you imagine buying a paranormal romance that had a cover resembling a true-crime novel? Or a dark fantasy book that actually looked like an erotic fiction? Probably not, and even if you did find miss-covered books like this from an unknown author or even a known one, I’m sure you wouldn’t give them a go.

As well as representing your genre correctly your cover should also indicate the tone of your writing. A bright and colourful cover would indicate a more light-hearted tale, maybe a comedic drama or an entertaining ‘how to’ fit with funny experiences that address self-growth and development. A paranormal or fantasy book, where the characters face death due to circumstance or their own actions, would herald a more serious and dark cover that depicts the book’s darker themes.

Of course there are all areas in between, and some life and death novels do have comedic characters or events that lend themselves to somewhat lighter covers. But whatever your genre, you as the author knows your story, your characters and how you want people to anticipate your book. Your cover is your first chance to illustrate exactly that.

What Lies Inside

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Genre – YA Paranormal Romance

Rating – PG-13+

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Cleanse Fire by Anastasia V Pergakis


Pars IV

20th day of Solis Moon, 1364

Derac choked. "What?"

"He came to speak with me while I was in the bath." The amber swirls in her eyes glowed bright and betrayed her panic, but her voice was calm.

His eyebrows shot into his hairline. "Did he force himself on you?" He swallowed the bile in his throat.

"No. He stared at me in a way that made me extremely uncomfortable and," she paused and held her lips between her teeth for a moment. "He kissed my neck. He didn't press any further than that, however."

Derac's breath rushed out of his lungs. He leaned back against the sofa and forced his muscles to relax. "What did he say?"

"He told me that he had great power, greater than just being the Mission Commander. He told me I should partner with him."

Derac's eyebrows shot up again. "What did you say to that?"

She spoke in hushed tones, but the words tumbled from her lips. "I told him no. I don't care for power. He said I could have my own power if I did partner with him. Then he told me to think about it. To wait until after the mission. He said that the events of the mission would help me to make up my mind. I have the awful feeling that this mission is going to go terribly wrong, and the Commander is behind it." She paused to her catch her breath. "Centurio, I know it sounds outlandish, but my feelings have never let me down before. We have no proof, but I think at the very least we should exercise caution around the Commander until we do find out the truth."

Derac rested his chin on the tips of his fingers. The elf thought he could barge in on the elfa's bath like he was supposed to be there? He tried to feel shocked at his Commander's possible betrayal and perverted actions, but he failed.

"What should we do?"

"I trust your judgment Kie. And you're right, we don't have proof. But I think I know of a way to get it." He lowered his voice to a whisper. "We tell the Commander our plan is to stay together. During the mission however, we split up. Get one group of faeries out of the cells and have two elite lead them back to the cabin. The other four will get the second group."

"Wait. Wouldn't that make the two vulnerable handling that many faeries on a six hour trip, on foot?"

"Yes. But, even if the faeries are weak, they could offer some help. There are hundreds of them down there according to the report." He winced. "Then again, you may have a point. What if the intel is wrong, yet again?"

"Didn't I see a report about sentry rotations at night?" Her eyes roamed over the table.

"Yes. It's here." He handed her the paper.

Her amber pools scanned the list. "Let's assume this is incorrect. According to this, they cut the guards in half at night. What if they had less? That would mean less to worry about. And, two of us could easily handle a few sentries."

"What do we do if they actually double the guards at night?"

Her lips pressed into a thin line. "Good point."

He pinched the bridge of his nose. "We can't even rely on our intel. Even if it ended that Palto was not involved, we could still be walking into an ambush. How would we know for sure it was his doing or just bad intel?"

She put her hands behind her head and glanced up at the ceiling. "I don't know. I have no skill with strategy."

He snorted. "You read battle strategies for fun."

"Exactly. I'm trying to learn. Doesn't mean I can make up new ones."

"All right. Let's go over all our options again. We can enter through the front or through the secret tunnel. With any of those options, we can stay together, split in half, or split four to two. Is there any other way to get into the mines?"

She shook her head. "I've heard rumors at the very top of the mountain is a shaft that runs all the way down to the lower levels of the mine. But, I don't know for certain and the mountain side is treacherous. We could injure ourselves more just trying to gain entry."

Derac held his head in his hands and tried to predict the outcome of their mission. Kie mirrored his position as her eyes scanned the intel scattered across the table. Her spine jerked and she sat up straight.

"What if we split up into three groups of two? Two to lead the first group out like you said before, two to provide protection, the last two get the second group. Done fast enough, all six of us and all the faeries would leave right after each other, or at least within moments of each other."

"And you say you have no skill with strategy."

She chuckled. "It's still risky though."

"What part of any mission isn't?" He sucked in air and held it a few moments before he exhaled. "Again, I don't like the plan, but it'll work."

They finalized their strategy and detailed every second of their mission. Confidence filled Derac that their idea would work and he ordered Kie to sleep.


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Genre – Fantasy / Military

Rating – PG13

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Author Interview – Lori Ryan

Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
I grew up in New Jersey but then moved around a lot after college. I’ve lived in New Hampshire, Vermont, Canada, Connecticut, and now Texas. Someday I want to be able to travel to new places to write about. Italy and Nantucket are on my list for that.
How did you develop your writing?
I joined a creative writing group and that helped a great deal. They’re a really great group of critiquers who don’t pussy foot around and pat me on the back. They tell me when I’m doing something that isn’t working. I’ve learned a great deal from them. I’ve also worked with two great editors who have taught me a lot as I’ve gone through drafts with them.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Sometimes talking with friends about a plot idea or just seeing something happen either in real life or in a book I’m reading will just spark an idea. After that, things just have a tendency to grow in my head. It’s hard to get it to stop once it starts.
What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?
Well, I’m self-published right now so I can’t speak to the publishing, but writing and marketing can both be difficult. They’re just two different beats, each difficult in their own way. I actually do really enjoy marketing, though, so that helps some. I think if you aren’t a person that enjoys networking and self-promotion writing will be a difficult field to be in.
What marketing works for you?
I do a lot of networking with people in the business and I do a lot of chatting online with my readers. I also give away a ton of free books. I want people to get a taste of my books and hopefully want more.
Do you find it hard to share your work?
Yes, it’s always tough to put your work out there and to read less-than-favorable reviews. I was really nervous about putting Negotiation Tactics out there because parts of it were a little heavier than my precious books I was worried about the way readers would take it, but I sent it out to some of my fans that I had connected with online. They were worried they’d have to tell me it wasn’t any good, but they came back with rave reviews. IT was a huge relief!
Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?

Yes! Both my family and friends have been wonderful. I have a number of friends who read beta drafts for me and brainstorm all of the kinks out of my plots when I need them to. It’s been a huge help.
 Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre –  Romantic Suspense
Rating – R
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Saturday, 28 September 2013

Pelican Bay–Jesse Giles Christiansen

Some things are better left alone…
After Ethan Hodges discovers an undersea cemetery just off the beach of Pelican Bay, South Carolina, he seeks answers from a grandfatherly fisherman named Captain Shelby. The captain wants the past to remain buried, and he warns Ethan to stay away. But Ethan doesn't listen.
Ethan's best friend and secret love interest, Morgan Olinsworth, joins in the investigation, unearthing intriguing secrets about the mysterious fisherman. When Captain Shelby is suspected of murder and disappears, a manhunt ensues, revealing a truth that unnerves everyone in Pelican Bay.

Pelican Bay by Jesse Giles Christinsen

Amazon Kindle US

Genre – Mystery, Suspense

Rating – PG13

4.2 (29 reviews)

Free until 29 September 2013

Hindsight by Owen Banner


I laid in bed that night, assuring myself that it would be the easiest money I'd ever made.

There was something about it, though--something cold sliding down into my gut. I had bitten that worm, and the hook was already working its way through me.

I smoothed over that feeling with the thought that I could be giving Haley a shot at the life she deserved--Winnie too. That's all I needed. I'd pay any price for that. Somehow that thought helped me get to sleep.

Around nine thirty-five, I began to drag myself out of unconsciousness like I was coming out of a coma. Slamming my hand down on my alarm, I stumbled through the living room to the red leather briefcase. An hour and a half later, I was in Philly, turning down a little side road called South Juniper Street. I had the brown paper package and a clipboard tucked under my arm.

About twenty-five steps from the corner was a small shop with a green awning and a candle lantern beside the entrance. The print on the window read McAfee’s Clockworks and Antiques. The curved brass handle on the door was cold. It was the kind of cold that hits your chest like a gong, then vibrates through the rest of you. The bell tinkled over my head as I pushed through the door and a small old man walked out from the back room. Wiping his hands with a dirty towel, he hobbled out from behind the counter.

"Can I help you, lad? Don't be afraid, there isn't anything an old goat like me can do ta hurt ya."

"I've got a package for Mr. Lyndon McAfee."

"Well, that would be me, wouldn't it?" He said with a smile. The man's face was tough, despite his age. He wasn't hobbling because he was old, he must have had some injury back in the day. I handed him the clipboard with the delivery sheet that Isaac had given me.

"This is quite unexpected," his voice had the same syrupy thickness of Isaac's. "There you go." He handed me back the board as I placed the package in his other hand.

"You have a nice day," I said and started to go.

"Can I get you anything before you go? Cup o' tea? A sandwich or something other?"

I turned back and forced a smile. "No thanks, sir. I'd really better be getting back to work," I said holding up my clipboard and giving it a shake.

"Very well, you have a good day."

"You too," I said as the bell tinkled overhead again. The door shut behind me. I rounded the corner feeling the sunlight on my face and crossed the street between the cars. When I stepped onto the sidewalk, I was already thinking about that money and just caught myself before I knocked a latte out of the hand of a blonde-haired businesswoman wearing a little too much perfume. Dodging her, I almost ran smack into a young guy with a black windbreaker and a camera. He stepped aside, and I caught his eye as he went past. I had time to notice he had short, dark hair, olive skin--Middle Eastern. A small scar cut down at the edge of his hairline. His eyes locked onto mine. That's when it hit.


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Genre –  Thriller

Rating – R

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Jack Canon’s American Destiny - Greg Sandora


We had a team of agricultural scientists that said it’s possible with our land and climate. Big Oil and greedy politicians had blocked the United States from doing it for years.

Our job was to convince the American People.

People are deathly afraid of change. Ideas have a life cycle. Early adopters jump on the bandwagon right away, eager to try the latest thing. Next, you have the show me types; they’re a little afraid to try anything new. They’re worried when they go to the pump there’ll be no gas. Third, there are the late adopters. After most people are convinced, then they’ll buy in. Last, you have the - that’ll never happen types. They’re quick to say it will never work. They wait until an idea is in common practice, then they go around telling everybody they thought of it years ago.

Bud liked to educate prospective big dollar supporters, “The first cars ran on bio fuel; back in 1880, cars were made to run on peanut oil. Hell, Henry Ford made the 1908 Model T to run on Corn Ethanol; he even had his own plant to produce it. This is nothing new, fellas. It’s been around for years! It’s easier than makin’ moonshine!”

Well what’s old is new again. Bio Energy had been hard to get across to the voters. Folks didn’t seem to get how it would create jobs. For this election, our message was honed to American Energy Works; we would link it with a new slogan - We Can.

Bio Energy sounds like something you flush.

I know people want a president, not a chemist. Focus group testing showed anything we tried sounds better after the words 'We Can'. I’d say the sexy stuff and leave the science to the talking heads.

America had done so well with corn technology, farmers had tripled the bushel yield per acre a decade ago. If American ingenuity could send a man to the moon, we could do the same for our homegrown fuel.

We’d all heard stories of guys working in their garages, who chanced upon a breakthrough technology, only to have it bought out by some oil company. Or worse - tales the inventor were quieted by the government in some conspiracy. That’s all science fiction.

We were holding a workable plan, the key feature being the planting of Jatropha, a hardy grass-like plant that grew in almost any soil. We would convince farmers to grow it and chemists would turn it into Bio Fuel. I preferred Jatropha to other feedstocks like soybeans because it couldn’t double as food.

I figured, why give people a reason to debate? Our experts laid the country out in a grid showing, by planting, just the available farmland of Kentucky; we could accomplish nearly half our national goal. Imagine what we could grow if we spread it around to all fifty states. The message had resonated so well in my home state, I’d won a third term.

Bud was telling donors, ‘It just makes good old-fashioned common sense!’

H. Bud Singer was in charge of the campaign and, in addition to fundraising, he was chiefly responsible for reshaping the message. I needed Bud because he could do and say things other men couldn’t or wouldn’t. Besides Bud, three other rising stars rounded out our core team, each in charge of a segment of the campaign.

Once we announced, we expected a flood of volunteers in addition to more paid staff. Our offices would be buzzing with enthusiasm and the aspirations of youth seeking a place to make their mark in the world. I had an uncanny knack for turning talented people into true believers.

Bud and I spent hours going over speech notes. Ideas didn’t come cheap; especially the kind that could lift us out of recession and pay our debt to China without going to war. We always ended believing the surest way to National Security and prosperity for America was to produce lots of cheap energy. Top economists calculated, for every one percent of energy produced on our soil, we would lower the import cost of oil by 3% and create a quarter million jobs. Our goal is to produce twenty percent of the energy we use and cause the price of world crude to plummet.

What’s scaring the Saudis is they knew it was possible; even their own scientists were telling them so. At least all the data we are continually sharing with them brought them to this conclusion. We have them so worried, the whole Middle East would be planted if they could grow anything in the desert. America has millions of acres of available farmland, a willing workforce, and people who can’t pay their oil bills nearly freezing to death in the Northeast. If ever there was a time for a message to resonate, this was it.

I met Bud Singer at Brown where I majored in economics. Bud was a Political Science undergrad, eventually getting a degree in law. He loved the strategy of politics and started working on congressional campaigns right out of law school. Later he headed a prestigious lobbying group, leaving it only to help me win the election to the senate. Bud was stocky and bald and stubborn, continuing to chain smoke even after having a couple of heart attacks.

Bud would say to big money donors – ‘We’ll have cheap energy like we had back in the 50’s and 60’s, so cheap the multi nationals fall all over themselves to bring production back to America.’ Privately he had a more ingenious plan. ‘We’ve got to make it economical to manufacture here again. Once we lure the Corporations back and get them hooked, we force them through taxes to keep the money and jobs here. Bud was right: politicians had made a crucial error rewarding American Corporations for sending jobs overseas, searching for cheap labor and short-term profits.’

Bud and I agreed that the richest Americans didn’t care where they made the money; they had quadrupled their wealth over the longest recession in history. Once we change the Energy Dynamic, the big players will all rush in for a piece of the action.

A trillion dollars worth of wealth would pour back into this country. We would appeal to their massive egos and call them patriotic - after all, they live here, anyway.

This time was nothing like our first presidential campaign, when our offices were housed makeshift in an old mattress store. One thing the first loss brought me was better positioning in the senate. In the most striking example of ‘it’s not what you know but who you know,’ greater name recognition had secured me a coveted position with the Armed Services Committee.

Our new headquarters were courtesy of our friends at TenStar, a Major Defense Contractor who wanted to get to know me better. They “rented” us the space, renovated to suit, and agreed to accept delayed payment over ten years.

Bud liked the idea, ‘That’s making the paper walk backwards, Jack!’

In addition to providing office space, TenStar would make the campaign an unsecured loan of five million dollars and provide the use of a corporate jet. Privately, the agreement was more complicated, involving several components. Provided Bud would sit on their Board and appear at Corporate Events, the lease debt would be considered settled. The caveat attached to the five million was after I left office I would speak at their annual meetings. Open-ended access was an assumed, but unspoken, part of the deal.

All in all, we considered that fair for us at this juncture, as we get closer, the arrangements will get better.

Sandy called on the speakerphone, “Brenner’s on the line. Can you take it, Jack?”

“Sure, Honey.”

Joe Brenner, CEO of TenStar, personally arranged for the space. TenStar made major weapons systems including a prototype fighter - code name, Phantom, that could enter Earth’s Orbit and fire weapons from space. Sort of an X-35 meets the space shuttle. The problem was, Brenner and his counterparts were the guys who lobbied Congress to shut down the U.S. Shuttle Program.

I picked up the phone, “How the hell are you, Joe,” mirroring his usual style and tone.

Joe fired back, “I’m well, Jack, just calling to see how you boys are settling in.”

“We’re doing fine.”

“How’s the donor money flowing in?”

“Don’t worry, Joe, you got us cheap.”

He chuckled, “We’ll see, Jack. You’ve still got to do well in New Hampshire and you’re not that well-known in the Northeast.”

“Thanks for the heads up, you son of a bitch! If Bud ever decides to leave politics, I’ll know who to call.”

Joe laughed, “I don’t think I’m ready for that. I’ve got all I can handle right here, but Jack, you let me know if you need anything.”

“Thanks, Joe, we’ll have a drink together in the White House, and seriously, I appreciate your support. We’ll talk soon.”

I could count on that, since the Phantom’s projected price tag was estimated at eleven billion per copy.

“Hey, Jack, I heard you were headed out of the country. Anyone I know?”

Joe was always snooping.

I laughed, “If I told you I’d have to kill you, so you’re better off.”

Joe’s laugh sounded forced. We said goodbye.

Sandy tilted her head in, blonde hair hanging down to the doorknob.

Still smiling, I thought she mistook my grin for a reaction to the plunging sweater blouse she was wearing.

Girlishly, “Senior Staff is ready when you are, Jack.”

I figured I’d just go with it to make up for semi-ignoring her before.

“Hey step in here a second.”

“Why, Jack, you need something,” flirting.

“I didn’t get the chance to tell you before; you look fantastic! Is that a new outfit?”

Sounding like a spoiled twenty, “Yes, do you suddenly like it? I didn’t think you noticed me, running through the building to look at your stupid car.”

“Well, I’m noticing now. You look gorgeous. Wow, Honey!”

“Well, better late than never, I guess…Thanks, Jack.”

Her look and the way she practically bounced out of the room told me she was happier.

I was sitting at my desk when Bud arrived, taking his usual seat on one of the sofas.

My office was shaped like an L. Our gathering area consisted of two black leather couches, a couple of wing back chairs, and my desk, all in a tight-knit square.

Bud asked, “How’s everything going today?”

Looking over my reading glasses, “Good, have you finalized the distribution points for the large donations?”

Bud answered, “Everything is set to go. The pump is primed, all we need is the cash.”

“You’re the wizard, Bud, great work.”

Bud had been working for months setting up Super Pac’s that would be controlled by us. The Committees could spend as they wished and collect vast contributions without burdensome regulations. Advertising on television is expensive, even on the local level. Regardless of cost, it’s critical to catch voters in that semiconscious state.

TV helps instill a positive and familiar ‘I know that guy’ kinda feeling. I don’t believe an election could be won without it. To be ingrained, our message has to be playing over and over. I still remember ads I haven’t seen since I was a kid.

The bottom line is - in order for us to make the financial commitments necessary to influence the election we have to set up these channels. I was confident Bud would handle our finances in a way that would still allow us to accept Federal Matching Funds. The people he placed in charge of the Super Pacs would be handsomely rewarded with opportunities, either in the White House, or with corporations that supported us. The system’s crazy; we had no choice but to work the gray areas if we want to win.

Next into the office was Robert “Tip” Thornton, after him, my best buddy, Bill Mitchell, and finally Lisa Pennington. The hit squad, we liked to call it.

This group, along with Sandy, was our inner circle.

We had an understanding of total candor - no subject was off-limits. We liked thinking out loud, knowing everything would stay with us. Secondary staff was on a need to know basis.

Bill was first to speak, holding up his thumb and fore finger an inch apart, “I’m this close to finalizing the trip to see the Saudis.”

We were priming the Crown Prince to be a keystone contributor. We would need a quarter billion to win this thing and we were banking on him to give us a big piece of that.

I said to the group, “If I can get twenty from them, we could get some of the others to pony up. Everybody likes to follow the big dog.”

Bill said, "They’re going to want some heavy assurances that you’ll stall the home still, Jack. Are you prepared to lie to these guys?”

“The truth would be really quaint right now, Bill. Listen, they’ve been selling us high-priced tar for years, sucking the life out of our economy. I don’t care what I have to say at this point! If we’re gonna do this thing and bring America back, we’ve got to hold our noses and do it. If any of you have a problem with this, try focusing on the ordinary Americans who are suffering. We need to tip the scales back in their favor!”

Bud added, “If any of you think there’s any other way to win, speak up now, because it’s now or never. Once we go over there, we’re in it up to our eyeballs!”

Lisa piped back, “I agree with Jack, I’m sick of seeing Americans losing their homes! This is our chance to finally have the power to do something about it.”

“Power isn’t given, it must be seized,” I asserted, “We’ve got to pull the rug out from under these guys, before they catch a whiff of what’s coming.”

Tip was a man of few words and had one quirk: he refused to ever repeat himself. When he spoke, we all piped down for fear of missing even a single word. It was always interesting. An ex-Navy Seal, he was in charge of security for the campaign. I trusted him with my life. Decorated for Valor in Iraq, he was recruited with a sub-agency of the NSA. Tip and company had been dropped into hotspots all over Afghanistan to hunt for snipers. The agency believes ‘it takes one to hunt one’ and chose candidates based on natural ability, recruiting secretly out of the military. His group eliminated targets considered security threats to the United States. Nicknamed King Cobra, Tip commanded an elite squad outfitted with sophisticated survival gear, capable of encampment behind enemy lines for days at a time. Tip saved lives by surgically removing the enemy’s instruments of death. The existence of the team was never made public.

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Genre – Political Thriller

Rating – PG

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Friday, 27 September 2013

10 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer – Fenella Miller

10 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer

1. Write what you like to read – if you don’t ever read contemporary romantic fiction, then don’t attempt to write it yourself.

2. Develop a thick skin – part of being a writer is showing your work to other people and being ready to accept criticism and be prepared to change what you’ve written. Getting stinking reviews, as well as being rejected by agents and publishers, are just part of the life of a writer.

3. Do something writing related every day – all writers need a life away from the computer. Even when you have a full-time job/bringing up a family/other major commitments in your life, in order to be a successful writer you must write something every day.

4. Be prepared to jettison an entire manuscript however long you’ve spent writing it. Only the fortunate few are lucky enough to have their first book published – most of us have written half a dozen novels which never see the light of day before they produce anything publishable.

Writing is a craft – like any apprentice you must expect to spend time learning to be the best you can.

5. Take your time and don’t be in too much of a hurry to send your book off to be read by an agent/editor or publisher. Put your manuscript to one side for as long as you can bear to – reading the book after a gap of time will often highlight what needs to be tightened or removed from a manuscript.

6. Be determined and be resilient. Writing is not an easy profession; I think you have to have an obsessive personality to make it work. Don’t give up after a few rejected novels, keep reading and writing until you succeed.

7. Always gets your manuscript proofread by someone else. However good you are, however professional, it is impossible for a writer to see all the typos and missing words for themselves. It isn’t necessary to pay for this service – any educated, literate friend can read through a book and pick up things that you’ve missed.

8. When you are successful be ready to offer your assistance and advice to those behind you on the ladder.

9. Be professional. What you don’t know about formatting your manuscript/writing a letter to the editor or agent/social media or promotion can be gleaned from other writers, writers’ associations and from the Internet. There is no excuse for being unprofessional.

10. Remember one person’s opinion is exactly that – there are millions of potential readers who could disagree with a negative review. Have confidence in yourself and your work and write what you want to write. Don’t jump on the latest bandwagon – stay true to your unique voice.


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Genre – Historical fiction

Rating – PG

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Author Interview – Dianne Worrall

How do you work through self-doubts and fear?

I just take one step at a time. The first is usually the hardest, but also the most liberating. That said – the goal needs to be big enough to warrant facing those doubts head on. It is sad that fear (of success or failure) holds so many people back from going for what they really want in life. Or something gets in the way and that becomes an excuse for giving up. After all, most of our fears, while they feel very real, in truth are only our imagining of a worst case scenario.  I love the acronym for FEAR: F (false) E (evidence)

A (appearing) R (real).

What makes you happiest?

Knowing that I have added something positive to someone else’s life

Making good business decisions

Good friends

My cats.

What’s your greatest character strength?

Tenacity – If I am really switched onto a project or a specific goal, I just keep going at it until I secure the prize.

What’s your weakest character trait?


Why do you write?

Language has always been my favourite form of expression; that can mean the written or spoken word. When writing about something I’m inspired about, I find my “flow” I am also the type of person who is driven to leave a meaningful and positive legacy for others. Writing for the business community is the perfect intersection for satisfying both of these things.

Have you always enjoyed writing?

Yes – but not as a hobby. Only in business.

What motivates you to write?

To inspire as many people as possible to go for what they really want personally and in business by sharing the real secrets to personal and business transformation and change that lasts the distance

What writing are you most proud of? (Add a link if you like)

1. My current best seller on Accountability Leadership at

2. A jingle I wrote for a gelato competition that scored me a diamond as first prize

What are you most proud of in your personal life?

My cats

My business (you can tell I don’t discriminate much between life and businessJ)

The books I have authored

My cats

Who is your favorite author?

Where do I start? I love authors who cover topics such as leadership, trend spotting and inspirational authors including Marshall Goldsmith, Dan Pink, Marcus Buckingham, Malcolm Gladwell, Simon Sinek and John Demartini

What book genre of books do you adore?

Leadership – Business – Trends – Inspirational – Animal stories

Di Worrall

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre - Business, Leadership, Workplace Behaviour, Human Resources, Executive Coaching

Rating – PG

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How To Find Your Vital Vocation by Brian Cormack Carr


What you love is what you are gifted at, and there are no exceptions.
~ Barbara Sher

This chapter is action-orientated and is all about finding the key that unlocks your Vital Vocation. It’s where we go in search of your gifts and talents in the sure knowledge that these lie at the root of your ideal work. If you already think you know what they are, great; now’s your chance to verify that. If you don’t, the exercises in this chapter will really help you to unearth them.

Discovering What Makes You Tick

The simplest way to get a hint of where your talents lie is to pay attention to anything that you are attracted to and in particular, anything that you really love.

Even if you don’t have an obvious talent in that area, you can be sure that your love for a thing points you towards a talent of some sort. Perhaps it will be something as simple as the fact that you have a heightened appreciation of the subject in question. Yes, that is a real talent. An expert wine-taster doesn’t need to be able to make wine, but he or she needs to fully appreciate good wine in order to do the job well. A history teacher may never make history, but he or she needs to love learning about it in order to teach it effectively. So it is with you. If you love something, you see it in a particular way: a way that’s utterly unique and therefore very valuable to you, and to others.

In order to cast the net as wide as possible, I’m going to ask you to explore several areas which will provide you with clues as to what you should be doing with your life. In the exercises that follow we’ll be searching for this treasure in:

- Your memories

- Your future plans

- Your imagination

- Other people’s perceptions of you

- Your unconscious mind

Each area is explored in a separate exercise and I’ll give examples from my own life so that you can see how it’s done.

It’s worth giving yourself sufficient time to do each exercise without having to rush through it. By going searching for what you love in each of these areas (the last two are optional) you’ll be able to gather enough information to spot any pattern in the things that are capable of satisfying and stimulating you. Once you can see a pattern like that, you can begin to build a life and career around it.

Ready? Enjoy this. We’re about to do no less than discover your purpose in life!

EXERCISE 3: Journeying into the Past

For this exercise, you’re going to cast your mind back to things you’ve loved doing in your past.

Step 1

Wherever you are just now in your life, think back to several earlier periods, for example:

- Childhood

- Your teenage years

- Young adulthood

- Adulthood

- Middle age

Write each of the periods you’ve chosen as a heading on a separate page and make a list of all the things you really loved to do when you were that age. List as many as you can recall and be as specific as possible.

However – and this is important – only write down the things you particularly loved. Choose things that would rate a 7 or above if you were to rate them on a “lovability scale” of 1 to 10 (with 10 being highest).


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Genre –  NonFiction / Careers

Rating – G

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Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Hunters and the Queen: Element Series (Young Adult Fantasy Romance) @VirginiaVayna

The Hunters and the Queen – Virginia Vayna

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre – Fantasy, Paranormal, Mythology

Rating – PG

3.8 (4 reviews)

The Hunters and the Queen is a work of fiction in the young adult, fantasy and paranormal romance genres. The story blends elements of romance, darkness, history, fantasy, and reincarnation. The second book in the series, The Gypsy Hunter, has a release date during fall 2013. I hope you enjoy the story. Please come back for more of the journey.~
The main character, Jolán Vajnbirg, is developing into another being. She has a calling from the sky world. A battle is on the horizon.
While working on her studies at the Churchill Military Academy in Kinsburgh, England, Jolán Vajnbirg’s final year at the academy develops into a year of competition, aristocratic love, reincarnation, and a calling from the sky world to help save earth from the death and destruction caused by the Order of the Hunters.
Jolán Vajnbirg is an often reserved, yet occasionally outspoken young woman living in Kinsburgh, England. She has a relatively easy life living in her quiet England town. She has a full-ride swimming scholarship to the Churchill Military Academy. She has a strong mind, she has an athletic body, and she has a loving family and caring friends.
As Jolán embarks upon her final year at the Academy, her life takes an unexpected turn. She has a quaint encounter with Colemund, the Prince of Gallia Belgica, and the two are literally a universal match created centuries ago. As Jolán begins the last year of her studies, she experiences many changes. She is unaware her future love will develop in to a star-crossed romance.
The sky world is steadily preparing Jolán for her future fate. She will need her friends to help her battle the Order of the Hunters. The hunters have upset the universal balance of earth, and the hunters have upset the sky world.
Jolán will learn about her past, she will learn about reincarnation, and she will understand her responsibilities in the realm. Her relationship with Colemund is no ordinary college love.
An Excerpt from The Hunters and the Queen:
The Phoenix
Hadrian immediately placed an angry phone call to Akuji, but this time she answered her phone. Hadrian sharply inquired, ‘Where are you, Akuji? We have a major problem in development.’ Akuji nonchalantly replied, ‘I just transformed a farmer into a hunter, and I’m explaining the rules.’ Hadrian didn’t care about what Akuji was currently doing at the moment; he violently said, ‘Return to Komi. Do not waste time, do not waste resources, but return on the next flight out of England.’ Akuji said, ‘I still have to finish one more assignment. I need to find and follow this girl named Jolán.’ The mere sound of such a name caused Hadrian’s stomach to turn, and his unnerving sensation returned. Hadrian dryly inquired, ‘Who is Jolán?’ As soon as Hadrian spoke Jolán’s name, he felt his insides turn and his stomach ache. Hadrian felt weak. Akuji said, ‘She is some assignment I have to figure out, but I’m not having any success.’ Hadrian gathered as much strength as he could for the moment, and he said to Akuji, ‘Get on the next flight back to Russia. We have heavy issues of concern we need to assess for action.’ At that moment, Akuji heard several voices come through her phone; but she was unsure what happened or where the voices were located. She asked Hadrian, ‘Are you ok?’ All Akuji could hear was the sound of a thousand whispers. Hadrian kept saying, ‘Akuji, are you there? Answer me.’ Hadrian received no response from Akuji. Hadrian finally hung up the phone, but Akuji still heard the voices. She was caught in a trance for several minutes until she received a piercing headache. Akuji quickly left some items behind for the farmer to study, and she walked towards her car. She hustled to the seat of her car. She was en route to the airport; and she was headed back to Komi. Akuji felt something had changed. She felt a sense of urgency.

Sweet Karoline by Catherine Astolfo

Chapter 1

I met Ethan on the day that I killed Karoline.

Other than a few minor adjustments, I believe that I have handled her murder exceedingly well.

The state of my car, for instance, has become something of a nuisance. Bits of tissue, used napkins, paper cups and pop cans litter the floor at my feet or fly out the window as I drive along. I am invariably subjected to a barrage of honking whenever I reach a red light.

People these days have no patience. They ought to understand that I am busy examining the stray bits in my car. Some of them are works of art. I don't notice the change to green because they are so infinitely interesting.

This study of creative possibilities has become somewhat of an obsession. In the back of my mind I know that all I have to do is clean it up. Yet the thought of actually tackling the onslaught of debris leaves me inert and helpless.

Ethan offered recently to take me to the car wash. He'd help me dump the debris and vacuum the inside, but I have seriously considered the idea that I may be destroying a future Picasso. I have thus far refused his proposition. Not that I have shared my vision of a Picasso with him, of course. I just say that I never have time.

I have acquired a habit of going shopping. I make lists of things in my mind—groceries, toiletries, cosmetics, medicines, vitamins or clothing—that seem absolutely essential to the arrival of tomorrow. But once inside the pharmacy, the clothing store or the shopping center, the bright lights mesmerize me. My eyes blur and I can't for the life of me remember what I have come for.

When I do buy something, I am left vaguely dissatisfied, certain that I could have gotten a better bargain somewhere else had I only looked a little longer. Depressed because I had to use my credit card again and this purchase will become just one more thing to do. Write the check. Buy the stamp. Walk to the post box. Mail the envelope.

The little, unfinished things do sometimes bother me. Dirty laundry is piled up in the closet. The bed is always unmade. In the bathroom, the ceiling is slowly cracking from some unspecified leak that I have failed to report to the superintendent. The drapes in the living room neither open nor close anymore.

At first I tended to watch television all night long, despite the fact that the next day I was a zombie. After I decided to go on an extended sick leave, it didn't matter. I started to sleep all night and all day, never moving unless forced to by some phone call, knock at the door or the call of nature.

I spend hours at the sink. For some reason, the suds and the water are calming. So far I have washed every dish, bowl, and ornament in the apartment two or three times. I reenact advertisements for the latest dishwashing liquid, showing off my lovely long fingers and hands to, well, myself. I speak in a sing-song voice to the imaginary audience, telling them how kind the dishwashing liquid has been to my hands over the years, encouraging them to run right out and buy this product before it disappears from the shelf.

After I've allowed the water to swirl down the drain, I shift to spending hours in front of the little mirror that hangs in my kitchen. People tell me that I am a very beautiful woman. On good days, when I feel haughty and happy, I can gaze into the polished glass and agree with their assessment. On other days, I notice the nose that's a little too upturned. The lips that protrude a bit too much. The dark birthmark above my left eyebrow. The ears that don't lie flat against my head. I have no idea why I am considered flawless, for I have many perceptible flaws, both inside and out.

My father is white and my mother is black with some Native American thrown into her background. My parents have always bragged that I inherited all the great physical features of those races. Their perspective is far less critical than mine. They focus on all the positives. Naturally wavy hair. Large brown eyes with long curling lashes. High, full cheekbones. A small, pert nose. Lips just thick enough to be called luscious.

I am one of those fortunate people who can eat all day and not gain an ounce. Thus I am described as tall and lean as opposed to thin. I have full breasts and a narrow waist. I am a fast runner and good at any sport I attempt. In Hollywood, I am considered full figured.

My skin is a light brown, the color of coffee with cream I guess you would say, that makes me look as though I've just stepped out of a tanning bed. Heads literally turn to stare at me in the street, from across a room, or on the subway. Male and female. To me, it's a constant source of surprise, chagrin and exasperation.

Lots of people, especially women, have jealously told me that I should be grateful for my looks. But I hate being identified as beautiful. Men tend to stare only at my chest when they talk to me. Or they show me off like some trophy and do not bother to ask my opinion on anything. I have been approached in bars and stores alike. Even in this land of plastic enhanced faces, I literally cannot go anywhere without being stared at or even followed. Most people, in fact, are convinced I am a movie star or model. These are not careers I've ever wanted.

I have often been stalked, thus the three sets of locks on our door. Our telephone number is always unlisted and has to be changed once some obsessed man discovers it. When you are lovely on the outside, it's always difficult to entice people to look for the true person underneath. I'm learning through Ethan that it's exactly the same for truly ugly people.


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Genre –  Psychological Suspense

Rating – 18+

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#AmReading Jack Canon’s American Destiny by Greg Sandora

I reached to her shoulders, “Sandy, we’re goin’ all the way!”

“Jack, I can’t wait until you expose these people.”

I started daydreaming about my speech… The wealthy want the status quo to  continue, hoarding trillions… they move in a world that few people get a  chance to see. We’ll get a big taste of that up in New York; that’s one of the  reasons I wanted Sandy to come. She’s never seen this before. I wanted her to  see this unbelievable wealth first hand.

Most Americans have no idea that the richest 1% control 50% of the income.  The system is so broken. We have thirty-eight million kids who go to bed hungry  every night while the wealthy in this country can’t figure out where to park  their extra Mercedes.

“Jack… have you heard anything I said?” She knew I was deep in thought and  hadn’t heard a word.

“Sandy, my parents have friends who would be embarrassed to stay too long in  their winter homes for fear the neighbors would think they’d lost their minds or  gone senile. All while millions of Americans are homeless. It’s messed up.”

“It’s awful, Jack The rich are so selfish they only care about themselves!”

“Well I’ll tell ya one thing, nobody has ever done anything about it.”

“The only thing I worry about, Jack: if you speak out against them, how are  you going to get big donations for the campaign?”

“It’ll be like taking candy from a baby. It’s human nature. Every billionaire  thinks he’s the exception and we’re not talking about him. You won’t believe how  fast the donations roll in.”

“Jack, you know what I’ve never understood?”

“What, Honey?”

“What don’t they have with all that money?”

“Peace of mind…they worry about what they might lose. You’ll see. They get  jittery when administrations change and they’ll pay huge money to the  frontrunners. For insurance, they have access to whoever wins the Presidency.  You watch.”



“Next time I drive.”


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Genre – Political Thriller

Rating – PG

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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Marilyn Holdsworth–Why Book Covers Are Important

Why book covers are so important.
         Book covers are very important because they are the first thing your potential reader sees. A good cover must have an enticing appeal to draw the reader to it. An attractive cover design immediately rouses the reader's curiosity in the book's content. And there is a much greater chance they will want to buy it. The old addage "you can't tell a book by its cover" may be true but the book cover is still most important in generating sales. Eye catching color and an alluring design that harmonizes with the book's title will be much more likely to capture the reader's interest. Also, the use of an endorsement of the book by a well known person or periodical can add to the impact of the cover. A few praising words or lines for the book can draw the possible reader to it. A book with a pleasing color design and intriguing title is much more likely to sell than one without. People do tend to buy what they see. A book's cover is the first thing they see and will remember. First impressions are lasting.

Making Wishes

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Genre - Women’s fiction

Rating – PG-13

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Above and Beyond: A Novel of the Civil War by Jessica James

Chapter 1

Looks like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it.

—Shakespeare, MacBeth (Act I, Scene V)

June 1862

Major Douglas Benton rode in front of his men, his straight, broad back giving no indication of the hard-fought battles through which he had recently passed. To anyone watching, he appeared the epitome of rugged masculinity and imposing power, yet beneath the stalwart exterior of muscle and strength rode a man with straying thoughts.

With the fighting well over and the enemy long gone, Benton’s wandering mind had turned to more peaceful pursuits. He was daydreaming—mostly about things like shade and a cool draught of water but also of kindly succor at the hands of a beautiful maiden. It was a dream that had little chance of becoming reality, dusty and dirty and disheveled as he was. But it was his to dream nonetheless as he and his horse, with his staff and troop behind him, plodded wearily down an overgrown bridle path.

Two days and nights in the saddle is enough to dull most men’s thoughts of women, but Major Benton found that fatigue did little to diminish his appreciation for the opposite sex. Recently entrusted with his own command, Benton’s orders had kept him engaged in tracking and harassing the enemy for the past few weeks, which had resulted in an unusually long isolation from feminine society. So hot as it was and as parched as he was, Benton still dreamed of warm smiles and womanly charms, deciding he would gladly forego the water and shade if only for a few minutes diversion with a female face and form.


“Yes, Lieutenant, what is it?” Benton’s voice betrayed his annoyance when the young officer interrupted his daydream. He knew only the name and rank of some of those he now commanded—and not even that for others.

“Sir, I don’t think…”

“There’s a house up ahead, Major,” another one of his men interrupted.

“Yes, finally.” Benton’s weary gaze fell upon a well-tended home sitting amidst a clump of old oaks. Aha, the trees prove evidence of bountiful shade, and the stone well in the yard testifies to the existence of water. Now all that is needed

The lieutenant interrupted again just as Major Benton began turning his horse off the path to the wagon track toward the house. ““Sir…as I was saying…”

“It will have to wait, Lieutenant.” Benton stuck spurs to his horse to ride in advance of his men. He’d already noticed the place itself was a thing of singular beauty, offering the added advantage of remoteness and isolation. He had only another quarter mile to dream about who might inhabit it.

* * *

The yard smelled of roses and appeared carpeted with velvety grass. The sun fairly gleamed from the broad, white bosom of the majestic ivy-covered house, making it appear almost celestial in nature. As he drew close, the slight hint of a breeze caressed Benton’s brow; he felt like he was part of a dream.

As Benton tugged on the reins to slow his anxious horse, his gaze fell upon a womanly form sitting on a garden bench with her head bent intently over a book. He pulled his horse to a halt and took in the scene, then reached down to open the latch of the gate. It was then that she stood and turned her face toward him, and it was then that Benton’s movements were for a moment arrested. Even a dream could not equal the perfection of beauty that stood before him. Astonished, Benton moved his horse forward and removed his hat, bowing low over his saddle. “Pardon the intrusion, miss. My men are tired and thirsty and would be much obliged for a place to rest.”

Benton was close enough now to see two blue eyes regarding him unemotionally from above the high collar of a drab, black mourning dress. Although he thought he had caught a glimmer of welcome at first glance, he could not help notice now the straight, authoritarian bearing of her stance, a trait he tended to find disagreeable in women. His gaze drifted down to the book she held in one hand, and its scuffed and tattered cover. As black as her dress, it reflected hard usage, but he could still read the title in barely recognizable gold letters: Holy Bible.

“Conscience compels me to decline the honor.” She spoke softly yet firmly, never removing her eyes from him as she slowly let the Bible drop to the bench behind her.

“We wish you no ill, miss.” Benton leaned on the pommel with negligent grace, confident of his effect on women. “Surely you are aware there is no refreshment more delicious than that afforded by shade.” He nodded toward the large canopy of trees to his right as he spoke, yet it took no intimate knowledge of his character or familiarity with his dream to know that shade was not necessarily the refreshment he was seeking.

The young woman’s eyes swept across his uniform, then over his shoulder to the approaching horsemen. The suspicion in them turned to intolerance. “I have offered you no invitation, sir,” she said in a cold voice.

Benton laughed as much from amusement as from surprise at her tone and examined her in such a way as to surely make her feel he knew her better than he possibly could. He continued to sit erect and poised, full of manly strength and confidence. “I see you are in mourning, and offer my condolences for your loss. But you are mistaken if you think we mean you harm.” He loosened his reins, making preparations to dismount.

“I have made no mistake.” The woman’s voice turned clearly hostile as she lifted an ancient shotgun from the folds of her skirt. In another instant, the gun was locked expertly between her side and elbow and was pointed straight at his chest. “But if one of your boots dares touch this soil, you may claim the responsibility for making one.”

“But I am Major Douglas Benton—” He stopped short when he saw the look that radiated from her eyes.

“Yes, I gathered that.” Her gaze remained locked on his. “I am no stranger to your character and reputation.”

The words were said in such a tone that it was clear she believed his character and reputation were not features to be proud of. Benton looked at her incredulously. In her expression, he could behold no friendliness or affection, yet the voice was distinctly Southern, gentle and drawling.

“Surely you do not mean to deny water to the soldiers defending you.”

She spoke unemotionally, not deigning to lower the gun. “I can deny water to those who are trespassing on my property.”

Benton looked down at her now with blank astonishment and then back toward his men still some twenty yards away. He saw out of the corner of his eye that she shifted her gaze to the east with a look of grave concern, but by the time he turned back around, her full attention was once again upon him.

“Come, my dear, where is your loyalty to Virginia?” Benton knew his tone revealed his agitation and made an attempt to sound less surly.

“I am loyal to the only authority I recognize,” she snapped, loud enough now for his approaching men to hear.

Benton let his breath escape him in a loud sigh of exasperation as he thought of the many battles he had fought to achieve his renowned reputation as a fighter. Yet not quite knowing what to do or say, he stared at the foe before him. “You intend to deny shade and water to these men?” He purposely asked the question in such a way as to indicate he did not think he had heard her correctly the first time, and wanted to give her another chance.

Her reply was simple. “I intend to defend my property. If you do not wish me to bestow the contents of this gun upon you, I suggest you urge your men to move on.”

In the heat of the moment, Benton completely forgot his dream. “And I urge you, miss, to put down that gun!”

Although he possessed a voice of easy command, Benton knew he was in a situation in which he was losing control. Indeed, if eyes possessed the power to kill, he knew he would be departing the earth for good, because her gaze, like the two barrels of her shotgun, remained locked on his heart.

“You may have the power to make that request, Major Benton—but most assuredly not the authority.”

“Madam, I did not request you. I ordered you!”

Benton looked from the gun to her face and saw no sign of fear or compromise. Then his agitation became obvious. His face kindled with the fire that was wont to burn there when on the battlefield. “I beg your pardon, young lady, for seeing the necessity of giving advice,” he said from between tightly clenched teeth, “but as we are men worthy of respect, I must insist that you drop that weapon.”

The woman remained unflappable. “As you have kindly begged my pardon for giving me this advice, I must beg yours for not taking it. To be frank, sir, you ought to have more prudence about where you request hospitality.”

Benton sat back on his horse as if having suffered a physical blow. Staring at his opponent with a look of intense annoyance, he dropped the focus of his gaze to the muzzle of the gun, which he noticed had begun to lower ever so slightly. Lifting his eyes to hers, he saw they had softened considerably as she followed the approach of a horse and rider behind him.

“Major, this isn’t a place you want to stop.” The soldier urged his mount forward and then drew rein beside Benton. “It’s the home of a traitor.”

The woman’s cheek twitched slightly at the words, like the spontaneous quiver of a horse’s hide when touched by a fly.

“You are acquainted?” Benton scrutinized the same lieutenant who had attempted to stop him earlier from turning down the lane.

“Sir, I have the unfortunate duty to report that this is my sister. Well, that is… was my sister.”

“I am still your sister, Jake,” the woman said softly, all the callousness gone from her voice. “The war cannot change that.”

The lieutenant did not answer her, just turned his head and spit into the dust as if that was a sufficient response. Then he addressed Benton again. “As I tried to tell you earlier, sir, there is a loyal family only another mile down the pike.”

Benton looked from one to the other for a moment and then decided to take his lieutenant’s advice. For a moment, he considered warning the woman about her unpopular stance in the region and the possible danger to her welfare, but one more look into those fearless, ice blue eyes changed his mind on the necessity. “Lead the way, Lieutenant.”

Riding at a swift pace, it did not take long for the band of warriors to put the house called Waverly behind them. As they trotted up a small rise, a scout came galloping out of the tree line and pulled his horse to a sliding stop in front of Benton. “Found this in the old tree, sir.”

Benton opened the communication and scanned the missive quickly. Turning his horse back toward the east, he scanned the landscape a moment and looked over at his next in command. “You see anything suspicious out there, Captain Connelly?”

Connelly squinted against the late-afternoon sun and then pulled a spyglass from his saddle. “Yea, looks like something’s kickin’ up some dust down there.” He handed the spyglass to Benton. “Might even be heading to Waverly from the direction they’re heading.”

Benton stared through the lens briefly then closed it in disgust with a loud snap.

“If that’s from Sid, looks like he’s right again.” Connelly nodded toward the piece of paper Benton still held.

Benton merely grunted in reply as he leaned over his pommel and studied the horizon with a scowl. “Whoever Sid is,” he said at length. “He seems to know every movement the Union army makes in this region—and I don’t even know who he is.”

The two officers sat silently and assessed the situation as the moving cloud of dust slowly transformed into a small band of cavalry wearing blue uniforms.

“Well, I reckon it’s a good thing we didn’t hang around Waverly.” Connelly shifted his weight in the saddle. “Looks like nothin’ but a small scouting party, but they could have caused some headaches.”

Benton took one more look, and then turned his horse back around. “Well they are welcome to Waverly—and its inhospitable occupant as far as I’m concerned.”

“Speaking of which, what do you reckin’ we should do with that one?” Connelly tilted his head back toward the house from which they had come.

Benton sighed heavily, trying to erase the image of those brilliant blue eyes filled with hostility, and attempted instead to imagine them shining with the devotion with which he was accustomed. “Frankly, I’m inclined to cut off the tail and hope it dies when the sun goes down,” Benton muttered as he tried to reconstruct the dream that had been ruined by the only woman he’d ever met immune to his charms.

Above and Beyond

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Genre - Christian Fiction

Rating – G

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