Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Author Interview – Jennifer Cornet @J_Cornet

Image of Jennifer Cornet

Tell us a bit about your family.

-I am the youngest of three girls. My older sisters Kellie and Angela are 5 and 2.5 years older than me respectively. We grew up in Springfield, Virginia which is just south of Washington, DC. They live in Richmond and Raleigh. My awesome parents, Jamie and Sandy, still live in the house I grew up in. A couple years back I bought a house that is about 8 minutes away, so needless to say I still see them all the time. As a whole, our family is pretty close knit. I try to see my sisters and my three nieces as often as I can, which can be difficult with them out of town.

My husband, Vladimir, and I dated for about 5 years before tying the knot in June of 2013. As I often tell him, he’s my favorite person. We have a great little household, no kids, no pets as of yet.

How do you work through self-doubts and fear?

-I have a really amazing support system by way of my friends and husband, Vlad. When I’m at my most defeated, Vlad often tells me “it doesn’t matter.” Its sounds strange, but when he reminds me that my success, or lack of, has no bearing on his love for me or his belief in me, it puts everything in perspective. I can focus on doing what I want rather than worrying about the outcome.

What scares you the most?

-I have a huge fear of home break-ins. When I was young, my parents accidentally left the garage door open overnight. Some kids came in and took stuff, which wasn’t a huge deal (most of it was later found), but what really shook me was seeing the cops finger print the door that led to our house. That too had been unlocked, but thankfully they didn’t come inside. Ever since I think every noise I hear at night is someone trying to get in. Even when I lived on the 4th floor, I was certain someone would climb up the tree and try to jump through my window.

What makes you happiest?

-Sleeping in on the weekends with my husband followed by a fresh cup of coffee and pancakes. It’s the little things.

What’s your greatest character strength?

-It may be as much a weakness as a strength, but I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I’m willing to try new projects and throw myself into them wholeheartedly. I look at something and go “I could totally do that,” then I try it. It’s a good and bad thing because I’m taking risks, but I’m also accumulating tons of crap from things I figured out I didn’t like or wasn’t good at. My poor husband is such a sport for putting up with it all.


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Genre - Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG - 13

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Connect with Jennifer Cornet on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.jennifercornet.com/

Monday, 30 December 2013

#AmReading - The Barrel Murder by Michael Zarocostas @MZarocostas

The Barrel Murder by Michael Zarocostas


Based on true events, The Barrel Murder traces the NYPD's investigation of the April 14, 1903 barrel murder, in which a man was found stabbed to death, dismembered, and placed on display in a barrel in Little Italy. Two NYPD outcasts hunt for the killer: Detective Joe Petrosino (a stocky "Dago" nicknamed Bulldog Joe) and Inspector Max Schmittberger (a giant "Yid" nicknamed The Broom).
Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt appointed Petrosino the first Italian-American detective in the NYPD and reinstated Schmittberger after The Broom confessed to grafting and blew the whistle on his fellow cops. By 1903, however, Roosevelt is in the White House, and Tammany Hall casts a long Irish shadow over the NYPD again. To complicate matters, investigative reporter Lincoln Steffens seeks Petrosino's help in finding out if there is a crooked lawman behind a gambling syndicate in the City.
As they work the barrel murder, Petrosino and Schmittberger encounter a lunatic doctor, the Secret Service, vicious Sicilian mafiosi known as the Morello Gang, and a mysterious code that may unlock the secrets of the killing and Steffens' alleged syndicate.
Note to the reader:   This novel is based on an actual murder that occurred in New York City in 1903 and the criminal investigation that followed. Several of the main characters are real persons or inspired by real persons. Joe Petrosino, the central character, was the first Italian-American detective in the NYPD's Central Bureau appointed in 1895 by Teddy Roosevelt (then President of the Board of New York City Police Commissoners). Petrosino and a few other brave men protected the immigrant masses and fought against the most feared criminals in the city's history. Their story begins here.

Author Interview – RJ Blain @rj_blain

Tell us a bit about your family.

I have a husband, four cats, and a warrior fish. I’ve been married for over ten years now (yikes!), and at least two of our kitties have been with us most of our marriage. The other two are recent adoptees to the family. Tsu Dhi, the Warrior Fish, observes his domain from his bowl in our kitchen.

He lets us live, under the strict condition we don’t forget to feed him and clean his water.

How do you work through self-doubts and fear?

This is a hard question for me. There are a lot of things I doubt and fear, but I just put my butt down in my chair, brace myself, and do what needs done. If I can’t solve it, I ignore it. If I can solve it, I address it. Then I move on. But some self-doubts never go away, especially when dealing with book sales and reviews. I just smile, wince, and carry on.

What scares you the most?

Spiders. Oh, without a doubt, spiders scare me the most. As do heights. And my husband getting into a car accident on his way home from work. Does this list have a limit? I don’t have to just pick one, do I? There are lots of things I fear, though I try not to let them get to me too much.

What makes you happiest?

Writing, Reading, and playing computer games with my husband. I love seeing what I can put characters through when I write. It’s a whole new world I get to explore day after day. Reading is for when I just want to escape, but I don’t want to be the one who has to put in the heavy lifting. I may be a writer (and freelance editor) by day, but I’m backstabbing rogue at night! Gaming is definitely how I unwind and just enjoy myself without having to think too hard.

What’s your greatest character strength?

I’ve been told by a multitude of trustworthy sources that I have the patience of a saint, so I’m going to go with that one. I like trying to give everyone a chance to prove themselves and become better – especially at writing. I think giving someone the gift of my patience is the only way I can really help another writer or person do what they want to do.


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Genre – Fantasy

Rating – PG – 13

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Sunday, 29 December 2013

#Free - Hannah’s Dream by Lenore Butler @ALJambor

Hannah’s Dream by Lenore Butler

Amazon Kindle US

Genre – Historical Romance

Rating – PG

5 (6 reviews)

Free until 30 December 2013

A sweet historical set in 1895
Hannah Dawes is an enchanting strawberry blond who is betrothed to the boy next door.  When his father sends him a hundred miles away to become a doctor, Hannah vows to wait for him.  When he marries another, she's hurt, but she's not down for long.  Hannah has a dream, and the gumption to see it through.  Drawn to the colors in the church's stained glass windows, she abandons the sandcastle sculptures she shared with her former beau and embraces painting with color.  She draws inspiration from the wild Atlantic ocean and when the family fortune is lost and she is forced to move to Colorado, Hannah is heartbroken - until she sees the Rocky Mountains and a cowboy named Adam.
Adam is a shy man who loves horses and thinks he'll spend his life on the range.  But when he
sets eyes on the saucy, red-haired Hannah, he's smitten.  He hasn't known many women, and that Hannah is a strange one.  At first, he retreats when she gets riled up, which seems to be all the time, and she doesn't think he likes her, and when he tries to talk to her, his lack of sophistication frustrates her.  But there is something about the sweet cowboy that stays with her, and even when she meets a handsome and rich doctor, she can't get Adam out of her mind.
While they try to find common ground, Hannah and Adam grow to love one another, but someone from Hannah's past has come to Colorado to steal her away and won't let anyone stand in his way.  Will he keep Hannah and Adam apart?
Settle into an sweet, old-fashioned romance and get lost in Hannah's Dream.

Author Interview – Ben Woodard @benswoodard

Image of Ben Woodard

How do you work through self-doubts and fear?

I just keep writing. All authors have doubts. The ones that succeed recognize the doubts, nod politely to them, and write.

What scares you the most?

Publishing a book. No matter how much time I’ve spent on it and no matter how many editors have seen it, I’m still terrified to push the button that says “Publish.”

What makes you happiest?

Being alone in a forest, walking, and dictating a new story. All worries and doubts disappear and I’m lost in another world. The world of imagination.

Why do you write?

I began writing because it was fun and I could make up stories for my grandkids. But, now, I see my writing as a way for reluctant readers to discover the fun of reading.

Have you always enjoyed writing?

No. I spent much of my career in engineering and marketing where I was writing manuals and ad copy. No fun at all, but necessary. I never thought I would write willingly, but fiction is different—it’s fun.


Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre - YA/Mystery

Rating – PG – 13

More details about the author and the book

Connect with Ben Woodard on Facebook and Twitter

Website http://BooksByBen.com

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Living The Testimony by Deidre Havrelock @deidrehavrelock

My Personal Testimony

I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, as a Cree/Irish borderline Catholic girl, meaning this half-breed rarely went to Mass. However, I did pray every night. I absolutely loved God and believed in Him deeply. Being Catholic, I had heard about Jesus. In fact, my favorite song was “Away in a Manger.” Whenever I was scared, which was often, I would sing this song. But I imagined Jesus to be a fairytale—a fantasy about a perfect God coming to save people. He was just for good thoughts. He was in no way a reality.

Despite my vague belief in Jesus, my relationship with God seemed deep. I would have conversations with my invisible God; I would tell God I loved Him. And I certainly did love Him. Although, I was becoming a bit frustrated with Him because of my dreary life circumstance. You see, my dad drank—a lot. And this stress, along with the stress of my quickly emerging spiritual life, was simply too overwhelming.

As a child I lived with a strange secret. I sensed an ominous yet deeply intriguing spiritual force in my home. I simply assumed a ghost lived in my house. To convolute matters even more, when I was just seven, a man with fire for hair appeared to me in a dream, forcing me to marry him in front of an upside-down cross. He told me in the dream, “Don’t worry, you have been chosen.” From this point on, I completely believed I was married to the devil—irrevocably dark and aligned with evil.

Fortunately, this dream did motivate me to dig my heels in and search for God. I figured only God could get me divorced from the devil. But instead my search led me to Fred, a kind spirit I met in grade four through a Ouija board. Being Cree, spirits were nothing new to me. My mom’s family always talked about spirits. Most of my aunts and uncles were scared of the spirits or ghosts they saw in their dreams and in their houses, but my grandmother told me the spirits were there to help and protect us. I wasn’t quite sure what to believe. I was confused. After all, the spirits I sensed around me and the ones I saw in my dreams scared me, too. But then again, Fred seemed different. This spirit was nice. He was funny. Fred told me through the Ouija board that his job was to protect and watch over me. Eventually, I began telling myself that spirits just felt creepy, but once you got to know them they could be nice. Especially, if you were nice to them.

Fred became my constant companion. But one day, in grade six, after my best friend’s dad tried to molest me and just after my uncle Glen (who had sexually molested me as a small child) came to live with us in our home, I had a nervous breakdown. While left home alone with Glen, I grabbed a butcher knife and ran to my room to hide. Once in my bedroom, instead of picking up my Ouija board to call on Fred, I cried out to God, telling Him I wanted to kill myself. Suddenly I heard a voice speak out loud: “When you are big everything will be okay.” It was God; He spoke to me. He was real.3 I told God I’d hang on until I was big, which obviously, to a twelve-year-old mind, meant eighteen.

By age sixteen, things seemed to have miraculously changed for the better. First of all, my dad was now inexplicably healed from alcoholism. Second, I was introduced by my high school teacher to a New Age transcendental meditation and channeling group that met weekly in the back room of a small bookstore.4 I was so excited. I thought for sure—in this extremely spiritual group—I would find God and get my divorce from Satan.

This group also told me spirits were good and helpful. However, a few sessions later, I found myself strangely altered after my spirit guide Fred, along with another extremely violent spirit, entered my body during group meditation and refused to leave. A member of the group did attempt to help me force these spirits from my body, but the endeavor failed. Consequently, I was kicked out of my New Age group for having bad karma. This meant I was the one attracting these evil spirits to the group—because I was evil. I left the group feeling deeply hurt, misunderstood, and very aware of being “chosen” by the devil.5

A school friend of mine named Doug, who had joined the channeling group with me, then suggested, without knowing anything about my spiritual past, that I study Satanism. His brother had a Satanic Bible.6 After flatly declining, I began dreaming I was killing people. I also dreamed of horrible evil creatures. Rats invading my house was a common dream, and the devil with fire for hair began reappearing in my dreams, growing angrier every time I refused to follow him. When I turned eighteen, I gave up on spirituality. I simply wouldn’t choose Satan and God had failed to show up and save me.

When I was twenty-two years old, now bulimic/anorexic, depressed, and suffering from intense back pain, my life took an unexpected turn when at work God surprisingly spoke to me again saying, “This is the man whom you shall marry.” That man was DJ, a young man who worked in the same office as I did. Eventually DJ and I began dating, and even though we seemed to have nothing in common—because I was convinced that God had sent him to help me—on our third date, I opened up to him, describing to him my nightmares and my spirit guide, Fred. Of course, I worried DJ might consider me crazy, but instead he said, “I’m here to help.”7

It was a few weeks later that DJ opened up to me, explaining how he believed in Jesus. He told me he believed Jesus was alive. He told me Jesus could heal me and save me; and because he was God’s actual Son, he was the gateway to knowing and experiencing God. DJ asked me to simply trust Jesus.8

But I was more than a little doubtful. In fact, his Christian beliefs made me furious. It seemed idiotic for anyone to believe that a childhood fairytale could be true, and it seemed positively arrogant that DJ thought he knew and understood God. After all, why couldn’t God just save me Himself? What did He need Jesus for? Why was Jesus so important? I argued with DJ about the relevance of Jesus many times. Then one night, after arguing about Jesus yet again, my back flared up with pain. DJ asked if he could pray for me. I was uncomfortable with this but thought, What will it hurt?

As DJ prayed for me, particularly when he asked me to be healed “in the name of Jesus,” my back pain sharply escalated—then the voices began. It was just like during my channeling days. Spirits stirred inside me wanting to speak. Except this time they were enraged. As DJ continued praying, my body contorted as my muscles tightened; a low growl came from my lips. Within seconds, a thick black mass pulled out from my back and hovered above us. I remember huddling against DJ, whispering, “What is that?”

“It’s evil,” he said.

I was terrified. DJ, however, immediately told the evil spirits to “leave, in the name of Jesus.” Surprisingly, the blackness retreated back down inside me. I was horrified and confused, crying and shaking. I didn’t understand I was possessed. All I knew was that Fred and another spirit were living inside me; they were angry, extremely strong, and they absolutely hated the name Jesus.

DJ, now with clear confirmation that my problem was actually demonic possession, had to find help, but where was he to go? He wasn’t sure if his church leadership would believe him. DJ then met with a Christian girl, Audrey, who also worked in our office.9 She and DJ decided to bring me to her church. They hoped her pastor could pray for me and expel the evil spirits.10

DJ convinced me to attend a service. However, shortly after arriving at the church, I found myself running from the service after voices in my head told me to kill the pastor. I remember this pastor was preaching about Jesus being able to heal. The whole service felt strange and uncomfortable to me, but DJ convinced me to go back to this church two more times. Each time I returned, the strength and rage of the voices grew and my strange back pain returned. Finally, much too terrorized and confused to go on, I refused to go back. I told DJ talking about Jesus aggravated my problems, so the solution was obviously not to talk about him.

Living the testimony

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Genre – Christian Living

Rating – G

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Connect with Deidre Havrelock on Twitter

Website www.deidrehavrelock.com

The Colors of Friendship by K. R. Raye @KRRaye

Moving On

Lance flicked his wrist and checked his watch.  Yes, 5:00 p.m. on the dot.  With a smile he knocked on the girls’ dorm room door ready to tackle their English study session.  Even though they each pursued different majors: Melody, Communications; Imani, Chemical Engineering; and he studied Business; they all made a vow at orientation to align their core Freshmen classes and liberal arts electives whenever possible. 

He heard movement behind the door as one of the girls checked through the peephole and then Imani threw open the door.

Lance smiled and landed a peck on her cheek before he strolled inside. 

The phone rang and Imani shoved him towards it.  “Could you get that? It’s my mom,” she said heading towards the bathroom she shared with Melody and the two girls in the connecting room. 

Colors of Friendship

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Genre – New Adult, Contemporary

Rating – R

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Connect with K R Raye on Facebook and Twitter

Website http://krraye.com/events.html

Love Me or Leave Me by Kristine Mason @KristineMason7

Chapter 1

“SOLD.” CARTER JAMES stared at the Clifton Park, New York 1970s split-level house and imagined the For Sale sign he’d place in the middle of the yard. Between what the house was currently worth and what his competitor would do to it during the renovation, he could easily calculate the numbers. The homeowners would have the additional income to move into something bigger, better and would be insane not to list their house. He had this one in the bag, no matter how great the renovation, no matter how much magic his competition weaved into her design.

And here she comes now

Brynn Dawson pulled her late nineties Ford Bronco alongside the curb. Every time he saw that SUV anger and frustration seeped into his chest. She shouldn’t have had to sell her Audi, but thanks to her ex, she’d been forced to sell off a lot of things to help with her debt. For what that piece of shit, Trevor, had put her through, Carter would love nothing more than to slam Trevor’s smug face into the wall. He wouldn’t, though. Well, he would if he knew for a fact he could get away with it and not have assault charges brought against him. He did have a reputation to maintain.

Focused now on the Bronco, he waited for her to step out of it. Seconds later, a long leg dangled from the driver’s side door. Creamy and toned, he’d spent more time than he’d ever admit fantasizing about what it would be like to touch her, taste her, feel those long legs wrapped around his back. 

His heart rate sped up when the rest of her curvy figure exited the vehicle. A hot breeze tossed her wavy, strawberry blonde hair and she sent him a big smile. The woman had no idea how crazy he was about her. He wanted to tell her, see if she felt anything for him beyond their friendship, but there’d never been a right time. They’d met three years ago when they both signed on to do the reality show, Renovate or Relocate. During the years they’d known each other, she’d been either engaged or going through a major split. 

Normally he had no qualms when it came to going after what he wanted. And he wanted Brynn. In this instance, he’d forced himself to be patient and bide his time. Although her ex had broken her financially, he hadn’t broken her tenacious spirit. But Trevor and all the crap he’d put her through had left her distracted. Being preoccupied with her ex’s threats and attorney had, unfortunately, bled into her renovations. Carter didn’t want to add to her list of distractions. When he let her know his true feelings, he wanted her clear headed and free and clear of her ex. He pictured slamming Trevor into the wall again. Even though she was no longer engaged, her ex still stood in the way. 

“Home sweet home,” Brynn said as she made her way toward him and looked at the split-level house. “This one is all mine.” 

Her perfume, something sweet and citrusy caught on the breeze and made him want to haul her into his arms and find out if she tasted as good as she smelled. “Don’t get too cocky,” he said with a smile. “We haven’t seen the inside.”

She eyed the meticulously manicured hedges and flourishing flowerbeds. “It can’t be that bad, not with the way the yard looks.” 

“Famous last words,” he said and arched a brow. Although he loved her optimism, he’d seen the house’s floor plan. She might have mad design skills, but it would take a miracle and a hell of a lot of money to turn this home into what the family needed. Which included an extra bedroom and more square footage. 

“Now who’s being cocky?” She glanced over her shoulder. “Why is Derek here?”

Derek Delmont, Renovate or Relocate’s producer, stood next to his rented black Cadillac talking on his cell phone.

“Not sure. He’s been on the phone since I’ve been here.”

“Looks like he’s not anymore,” she said and waved to the producer.

Derek pocketed his cell phone and approached them. “Sorry about that,” he said. “Jim and his camera crew are on the way and should be here any minute. You know the drill. They’ll do some shots outside, then follow you into the house.” He handed Carter the keys to the split-level. “From there, it’s business as usual.” His cell phone rang, but he ignored it. “Brynn, I’d like to have a word before I go.”

Carter met Brynn’s questioning eyes before she followed Derek to his Cadillac. Instead of staring after them, Carter looked to the split-level and then glanced at the neighboring homes. While trying to act nonchalant, his mind and heart raced. Derek rarely showed up on the set. With the number of shows he produced, he didn’t have the time. Derek’s reason for being here today not only piqued his curiosity, but had him on edge. He’d been worried about Brynn, and about the way she’d allowed what had been going on in her personal life to affect her professionally. 

This episode of Renovate or Relocate would mark the show’s season finale. They’d already done seven shows and of the seven, only two homeowners had loved Brynn’s designs and decided to stay in their newly renovated homes. Was that what Derek wanted to talk to her about? With that question in mind, he allowed his curiosity to get the better of him. Pretending to retrieve something from his SUV, he watched the exchange between Derek and Brynn.  

The hope and excitement brightening her pretty face only moments ago had vanished. With her brow puckered and her mouth twisted in a frown, she hugged herself. Whatever Derek was saying couldn’t be good news. Tension coiled through Carter’s body and sank its claws into his shoulders. Brynn didn’t need another blow. Not to her ego and certainly not her finances. While he wasn’t privy to what she made—on the show or with her off-air clientele—she’d made it clear that her ex was forcing her to drain her bank account. Between her attorney’s fees and what she owed Trevor, Carter doubted she could afford to lose her job as the TV show’s designer.

Derek pushed off the Cadillac and approached Brynn, resting a hand on her shoulder. She gave the producer a small smile and nodded. Still hugging herself, she remained near the curb even after Derek drove away. 

Anxious to hear what Derek said, Carter closed the Infiniti’s door and met her at the end of the driveway. “Everything okay?” he asked just as a van pulled along the curb. Jim jumped out of the passenger side, while one of the cameramen exited the back of the van. 

“Oh, yeah.” She clenched her jaw and thinned her lips in a tight smile. “Everything’s fine. No worries.”

She’s lying. Based on her rigid posture and the way she rapidly blinked, as if trying not to cry, his gut tightened with concern and suspicion. “From where I stood it seemed like—”

“Hey, guys,” Jim called as he headed down the sidewalk to the driveway. “You ready?”

Carter leaned in, fought the urge to hold her. Whatever burden Derek had added to her shoulders, she didn’t have to handle it on her own. A born fixer, he’d find out what had transpired between her and the producer and make it go away. “We’ll discuss this later,” he said, stepped back and smiled at Jim. “As always, just waiting on you.” 

When Carter pulled away, Brynn struggled to keep her knees from buckling. After the bomb Derek just dropped on her, the sudden need to lean on Carter and soak up the strength and confidence he oozed, overwhelmed her. What Derek had told her had left her stunned. And worried.

I’m going to be replaced.

Her stomach knotted. She could not lose her job. Only ten thousand dollars away from being out from under Trevor’s thumb and with no Plan B, she needed to remain part of Renovate or Relocate. But because only two families had chosen to stay in their homes after her renovation, Derek had been forced to give her an ultimatum. The sponsors of the show weren’t happy that appliances they’d either donated or discounted weren’t being featured enough or weren’t appealing enough to keep the families from leaving. As for the viewers, according to Derek, the show used to have hundreds of thousands of applicants wanting to participate on the show. That number had dwindled by the thousands each time she lost to Carter.

Now, she had to do her best to ensure the owners of this split-level stayed in their house and didn’t purchase whatever home Carter found for them. Otherwise, she was out of a job.

Her throat tightened and her eyes burned. She ground her teeth and willed herself not to cry. At least not now. Later, when she was back at the kitchenette suite she would use during the duration of the show, she’d let the tears fall. For now, she had to maintain her game face. In a few minutes, she would have to go in front of the cameras and would prefer to do so without raccoon eyes.

Jim took the house key from Carter. “Then let’s do this,” the director said. “We’ve got two weeks and no time to waste.”

She snapped to attention. No. She would not go down without a fight. Fortunately, Jim was the only member of the crew aware of her potential firing. She was thankful no one else knew, especially Carter. While he was the competition, they were also friends and she cared what happened to him. If she were to be replaced, he could be affected, too. Who’s to say Derek wouldn’t simply clean house and start fresh?

She couldn’t let that happen and needed to kick some serious butt and save her career. She’d been down before. Hell, thanks to Trevor, she was still down. But she’d never been out. Not yet, hopefully not ever.

After Jim stepped away, Carter moved next to her. The intensity in his dark eyes had that urge to lean against him returning with a fury. “Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked, his tone quiet and skeptical.

Clearing her throat, she straightened her shoulders. “Sure, I’m sure.” She plastered on a smile and glanced at Jim, who waved them over. “Time to do this,” she said and worried Carter would read between the lies, she walked toward the director.

Jim had brought Vic and Larry with him. Vic was to film them outside of the house, while Larry had already taken the key from Jim and made his way into the home. After Vic adjusted his camera, Jim directed her and Carter. He had them do their typical opening. When she normally faced the camera and did the walk up the driveway, she had hope in her heart and a fire in her belly. Her hope had died after her discussion with Derek, but the fire in her belly remained. She had to succeed with this house. If the homeowners decided to sell it, even after what she did for them, she was in serious trouble. No ten thousand dollar bonus, no job, no source of income, major debt…big trouble.

After they finished the walk up the driveway, they stopped at the front door, turned and faced each other with their arms crossed. At this point, Carter usually wore an arrogant grin, while his eyes held a hint of playfulness. Their competition was good-natured, not serious. With her job on the line, along with the ten thousand dollar bonus that would eliminate her debt to Trevor, the competition was now serious. According to Derek, Carter didn’t know this. Yet instead of wearing his usual self-assured smile for the camera, his mouth was set in a grim line and his eyes weren’t playful, but instead, filled with what she considered anxiety and maybe suspicion. 

“Cut,” Jim said and motioned to Vic. “Didn’t you two get your caffeine ration this morning?” He shook his head. “That was lame. Let’s try again.”

They went through the same routine two more times, until Jim finally gave them the okay. “Good.” He nodded. “We’re right on schedule.” He clapped his hands together. “Okay, Vic, head inside and work the opposite angles to Larry.”

Carter opened the front door and Brynn’s stomach rolled.

Please let this house be okay. Nothing major. Nothing earthshattering. Please let this house be okay. Nothing major. Nothing earthshattering.

The mantra filtered through her head as she walked over the threshold, then it came to an abrupt halt. Hope filled her empty stomach as she glanced around the foyer.

“Don’t get excited,” Carter said. “Yes, there’s a lot of space for a family of six, but I see a lot of wasted space.”

He was right about that, but it was hard not to be excited. The foyer was great. Hardwood floors led to a tiled floor in the kitchen. She’d fix that if it was on the homeowner’s list and make the transition less choppy. Regardless, the space was open and airy with high ceilings and a lovely chandelier hanging in the foyer. To her right, she found a coat closet. To her left, an enormous living room that led into a formal dining room. Both were tastefully carpeted and painted with neutral colors.

“It’s kind of hard not to get excited,” she said. “This space might be wasted now, but with a few tweaks, I’ll make it work.”

“Yeah, well, let’s check out the kitchen.”

Larry walked backward into the kitchen and kept the camera aimed on them, while she caught Vic in her peripheral vision coming along the side. When she stepped into the kitchen, her earlier excitement deflated.

“Hello?” Carter used his hand as if it were an imaginary phone. “Is this 1975? Yeah, we’ve found your kitchen. You can have it back.” He shoved his hand in his pocket. “Just saying.”

She grinned. “I’ll admit, it’s small, but with a little of this and a little of that…” Seriously. That’s all she needed to do. Blow out the wall to the dining room, add some extra cabinets on the free wall, maybe put in an island. Piece of cake. She looked out the kitchen window. “Oh, wow. Fenced in backyard, big shed, beautiful landscaping. Looks like the homeowners spent a lot of time on their yard. That’ll be hard to walk away from.”

He frowned. “So the yard is great, who cares? I’ll find them a new one. Let’s head downstairs. I’ve seen the specs on this house. It’s not pretty.”

While she hadn’t seen the home’s specs, she’d been in enough split-levels to have a general idea of what was waiting for her. The downstairs family room didn’t disappoint. Roomy, with a nice fireplace, she could see the family spending loads of time in this space, especially once she’d given it a little updating. She looked to her right, saw the large laundry room and sent Carter what she hoped was a self-assured smile. “I’d say this was very pretty.” Are you kidding me? The room was huge, with decent cabinets and a modern washer and dryer. She didn’t see one thing she’d change. 

“This house has a partial basement,” Carter said and nodded to his left. “There are six people in this family. They should have a full basement they could use for storage and a nice rec area.”

She craned her neck and grew more confident. “Looks like plenty of space to me.” Although one side was cluttered with boxes, a big workbench and tools, the other side was being used as a small rec area. Furniture from the 1980s sat on top of remnant carpeting, which was littered with tons of kids’ toys. Aware of the camera and her role on the show, she grinned, then sniffed. “Is that fear I’m smelling?”

He half-smiled, while his eyes glittered with amusement. “Ah, you’re mistaken. That’s the smell of victory. You haven’t seen the half bath and downstairs bedroom. Come on.”

He led her back into the family room and down a short hallway. The half bath was typical and updated. “Okay,” he said. “So the powder room is fine. But what about this?” He opened the closed door at the end of the hallway. “Holy…yep.” He sniffed. “That’s definitely victory you were smelling.”

The homeowners were using the bedroom as an office. A very cluttered, disorganized office with ugly, outdated furniture. “Some shelving units here and there, then voila. A very useable room.” She followed him back up the stairs. “Seriously, Carter, you’re reaching. This house is in great shape.”

He stopped at the steps leading to the upstairs level where she hoped to find four bedrooms. Holding the rails, he turned to her and raised his dark brows. “This house is in great shape for a family of four. Let me show you why.”

Damn. Normally she didn’t care that he had the upper hand and could look at the home’s specs before she did. But she needed this house to be easy. She needed to make this family want to stay. 

She smiled despite her wavering confidence. “Please do.”

When they reached the top landing, she looked to her left. “The master bedroom?”

“You got it,” he said and followed her inside.

Larry was already in the room filming. She didn’t have to mask her emotions for the camera because the room was large with plenty of space. It also had a good-sized, walk-in closet with built-in shelves. “Still not seeing a problem.”

Carter walked to the far corner of the room and pointed to an opened door. “Sure about that.”  

She met him at the door and peeked inside. “So it’s small for a master bathroom.” Very small. Actually, the bathroom reminded her more of a closet with a shower, toilet and sink shoved inside.

Carter looked directly at the camera and sniffed. “I’m really smelling victory now.”

She brushed past him, her eyes on the camera’s lens. “Notice how he’s smelling victory near the bathroom? Kinda makes you wonder…”

Larry grinned and held the camera steady. She walked out of the room and was met by Vic, who had his camera aimed on her as he moved backward. “I see they have a full bathroom.” She looked inside, and while it wasn’t the biggest bathroom, it had been updated and worked.

“Yes, I know. This house has two full baths and a half bath. Which is great, again, for a family of four.” He stepped in front of one of the two closed doors at the end of the hallway. “Here’s why.”

When he opened the door, she did have to mask her disappointment this time. Clearly a boys room and clearly being shared by three of them, the room was small and claustrophobic. Bunk beds were along one wall and a full-sized bed flanked the other. There was barely enough space to move between beds, and the closets were shallow and offered no storage. Not good. This room wasn’t built to house three kids.

“Well?” Carter asked. “Smelling anything yet?”

“Just your overblown ego.”

He looked at the camera. “She’s making me self-conscious. I might have to change my cologne.”

Grinning, she opened the last bedroom door. While she loved the way Carter smelled, earthy, musky and very male, and even if the cameras weren’t on them, she would never tell him. Not because he had a big ego, he didn’t. But because he might end up with the wrong impression. 

Or maybe the right one

Yeah, and if she let him know she’d been thinking about him outside of the show, outside of their friendship, that could end up a total disaster. He’d never once hinted at being interested in her. If anything, since her break up with Trevor, he’d kept her at a distance. Besides, she didn’t have time to think about Carter in any way other than the competition. She had a house to design and a job to keep.

“Now do you see why this family needs to move?” he asked, his big body crowding her at the threshold of the small bedroom, undoubtedly used for a little girl. “The crib and dresser take up more than half the room. And look at the bookshelf.”

“It’s shaped like a doll house. I love it.”

“Yeah, and it takes up an entire corner of the room.”

She stepped inside and opened the closet. “Plenty of room here.”

“For a two year old,” he said. “But picture a teenage girl trying to fit all her clothes in there. Not going to happen.”

Remembering her own clothes fetish as a teenager, a fetish she’d carried into adulthood, she had to agree with him. Just not on camera. She maintained a poker face. “I think you’re wrong. I can make this house work for them.” 

“Only with the right budget.”

“True. But before you become too smug for your own good, we need to meet with the homeowners and find out exactly what they need.” She turned off the bedroom light. “You haven’t seen their list of requirements for a new house or your budget.”

“Cut,” Jim said, then told Vic and Larry to take more footage of the house for the editing department to use. “The homeowners are Mario and Gina Milano.” He checked his watch. “They’re at the neighbor’s house across the street. Once Vic and Larry are finished, I’ll grab them.” He turned to her. “I told you I wanted Julia here by ten. I’ll need to get footage of you and her going through the house and coming up with your plan of attack after we’re done with the homeowners.”


Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG-13

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Connect with Kristine Mason on Facebook & Twitter

Author Interview – Andrew Gabriel

Tell us a bit about your family?

I come from an average-sized family, but when we all lived in the same house, it    seemed like a very BIG family.  I have both of my parents and 3 younger sisters,      the youngest of which is 16 years younger than me.  I am now married, and have      since moved out of the ‘zoo’, and my wife and I are expecting our first child very             soon.  My 2 oldest      sisters are married as well, and I already have a niece and     nephew, and we are expecting another one very soon!

What makes you happiest?

Being able to do nothing more than to sit around and hang out with family and      friends.

Why do you write?

I write because it helps get my energy out.  My mind seems to always be flowing   with ideas that spark, and I find it fun to put those ideas in writing in some way.

Have you always enjoyed writing?

I used to enjoy writing more than writing, but over the years, that creativity           seemed to switch from images into words.

What writing are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the first book I wrote and published:  A Diary of Hope:  The    Story of an American Prisoner of War.  It is about my grandfather, Frank Carollo’s time as a prisoner of war in Stalag 17B during World War II.  It allowed      me to experience my late grandfather in a way that I never could have, otherwise, and revealed to me his experiences during a dark time in this country’s history.             This book was originally self-published through Lulu.com, but is now published    through a UK publisher called Tommies Guides.  Here are some links if you’re interested:

http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/andrew-gabriel/a-diary-of-hope-the-true-story-                  of-an-american-prisoner-of-war/hardcover/product-5554449.html


Who is your favorite author?

My favorite author of all time is Dr. Seuss, but in terms of ‘adult’ books, I’ve         always been partial to adventure writer Clive Cussler.

What book genre do you adore?

I absolutely love action-adventure!  To me, there is nothing that can suck you in     more, and make you want to experience (or sometimes dread what the characters         are experiencing) more than a good adventure.

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

I grew up in the same house where my mother was raised, that my grandparents     bought in the 1950’s, in Spotswood New Jersey.  In recent years, my wife and I       moved 10 minutes down the road to Manalapan, New Jersey, where we currently      live.  Small town life.  What more can be said!

Where do you get your inspiration from?

For this particular book, my energy-filled fiver year old dog was ALL the

inspiration I needed!  Otherwise, my inspiration comes from the world around me.

It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, something will always come along to spark an idea or two in my head.

Is your family supportive?  Do your friends support you?

Yes, my family and friends are VERY supportive.  They are always there to tell     me that I did a good job, even when the world at large may not think that way.          They are good people when it comes to stuff like that, especially my parents.

Do you plan to publish more books?

Yes, I plan to publish MANY more books, as The Big Book of Harry is the first     book in a series of children’s books that I hope to write for many years to come!          Other than those books, well, we’ll see what ends up inspiring me!

What else do you do to make money, other than write?

I would love to do nothing more than to sit at home and write full-time.     Unfortunately, reality dictates that I have to make money through other means at    the moment.  I currently work at Rutgers, That State University in New Jersey.

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

Hmm.  Interesting question.  I’ve always loved the Pacific Northwest, so I’d have             to go with Oregon, but I’ve also been partial to Australia.


Looking for a fun, new book for children? Well look no further! ‘The Big Book of Harry’, the first of a series, introduces young readers to a dog named Harry,as he takes them on a fun-filled tour of his daily life. You will find your kids…and perhaps even yorself…laughing and learning, as you explore the world of this nutty, but lovable animal!!

The ‘Harry Book Series’ takes young readers on exciting adventures filled with fun, learning, and laughter…all told through the voice of one fun-loving, crazy dog. Don’t miss out on all the the fun!

And feel free to visit and like Harry’s very own Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/officialtheoneandonlyharry

Buy Now @ LuLu

Genre - Children

Rating – G

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Connect with Andrew Gabriel through Facebook

Friday, 27 December 2013

Midshipman Henry Gallant in Space by H. Peter Alesso


The hours in a day were never enough. Each watch, report, and exam seemed like an organized disruption to Gallant’s desire for food and sleep. Each irreverent “Attention Midshipman Gallant” that blared over his head, called him away to some new obligation. A week after re-qualifying, Gallant joined the other midshipmen in an advanced flight training session conducted by Lieutenant Mather.

Mather was going to review the ship’s computer systems in detail in preparation for a mock combat session. While many of the midshipmen were already up to date on the ship’s AI systems, it was an opportunity for Gallant to catch-up.

Mather stood at the head of the compartment at a lectern facing several rows of chairs. He began describing the Repulse’s computer system, “It’s a marvel of Twenty-second Century technology. It provides three levels of operation for each and every important department on board including: navigation, engineering, weapons, environmental, and communications. The first level is the centralized Artificial Intelligence (AI) system. It performs what we call ‘strong-AI.’ Then, the second level includes system operations of individual departments with their own ‘weak-AI.’ They require more human interaction in order to coordinate systems. Finally, the last level is direct human manual control.”

“Officers, this is the strong-AI system nicknamed GridScape.” A three dimensional humanoid holograph form appeared before Mather. ““The avatar image is changeable,” he flipped through a few before settling on a base form. “I prefer this nondescript image for my lectures. GridScape is a wireless grid computer network consisting of over one million parallel central processors performing a billion-billion operations per second. It helps to control operations throughout the ship and its fighter support within a limited range. It coordinates overall control with our technically trained crew. Of course, it has redundant connectivity for reliability; both direct wiring, as well as wireless connections. GridScape is fully capable of independent automatic operation for most routine operations and many emergency responses that the ship may be required to perform.”

Sandy Barrington stood up and asked, “What happens when there’s battle damage, sir?”

“In the event the strong-AI system is damaged, the weak-AI computer systems take over local functional operation. Of course, every device can be switched to manual operation as required. Also, all crew members have their comm pins. They can connect to local resources that in turn can connect to the centralized AI,” said Mather.


Buy Now @ Amazon and Smashwords

Genre – Science Fiction

Rating – G

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Connect with H. Peter Alesso on Facebook

Website http://www.hpeteralesso.com/Default.aspx

Author Interview - Simone Pond @SimonePond

How do you work through self-doubts and fear?
Every day I get up and say ‘thank you’ even if I don’t mean it. Then I write in my journal for a few minutes to clear my head. I read some inspirational literature and pray. Throughout the day, if I feel myself straying off the path, I pray some more.

What scares you the most?
Fear of failure.

What makes you happiest?
Helping others without expecting anything in return.

What’s your greatest character strength?
I’m extremely disciplined.

What’s your weakest character trait?
I’m extremely hard on myself.

Why do you write?
I love making up stories and sharing them with others.

What writing are you most proud of?
My book The City Center: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FQZ89KC

What are you most proud of in your personal life?
Getting sober, quitting smoking and staying clean.

What books did you love growing up?
Charlotte’s Web, The Outsiders and Flowers in the Attic.

Who is your favorite author?
Margaret Atwood.
The City Center
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Science Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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Author Interview – Jade Kerrion @JadeKerrion

Tell us a bit about your family.
I’ve been happily married for eleven years, and I have two sons under the age of seven, with a third on the way. They keep me busy, and more importantly, the house is sloshing with testosterone. Even the pet fish is male…
How do you work through self-doubts and fear?
To be honest, I’m usually working so hard that I don’t have time literally to indulge in self-doubts and fears. I’ve been blessed in that success has often come my way if I want something enough and I work hard enough for it. As you can probably guess, I’m working very hard to succeed as a writer. Success (fingers crossed) will show up eventually. J
What scares you the most?
That I’ll somehow miss out on life because I’m so busy pursuing my goals. It’s a challenge balancing between all the things that have to be done.
What makes you happiest?
When my children crawl into my bed in the morning and demand a cuddle. I adore my two boys.
What’s your greatest character strength?
Persistence and conscientiousness (which are somewhat related.) I am capable of working very hard for extended periods of time to do what has to be done to succeed.
Eternal Night ebook
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Fantasy, Paranormal
Rating – PG-13
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Connect with Jade Kerrion on Facebook & Twitter

Author Interview – Peter Clenott @PeterClenott

Image of Peter Clenott
Tell us a bit about your family: My grandparents came from Russia and east Europe, Hungary, and settled in the United States and Canada in the late 19th century. My mother’s family settled in Georgia and Massachusetts. All of them ultimately made their way up to Maine, where I was born. My parents met when they were college students, my father at Bowdoin and my mother at Wellesley. This was during WW II. That makes my sister, brother and I part of the baby Boomer generation. My three kids, Leah, William and Stephen belong to the Millennial Generation. Leah is 17 and the twins are 15. We all live in Massachusetts now.
How do you work through self-doubts and fear? In writing I have no self-doubts. But as a shy person, I have had plenty of self-doubts that I preferred to slide past without facing. Dating was always terrible. Public speaking impossible. But since I have published and have spoken at various literary functions, I’ve discovered that as long as I’m talking about something I’m comfortable with, I do okay. And dating, of course, is a thing of the past.
What scares you the most? The end of the world, running out of money before the end of the world, forgetting to put on my pants before I run out of money.
What’s your greatest character strength? Perseverance. Through all of the rejections I have received from agents and publishers, I haven’t stopped and have finally achieved some success.
What’s your weakest character trait? Impatience. Frustration when things don’t go as planned. That goes hand-in-hand with the self-doubts.
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre - Young Adult
Rating – PG
More details about the author and the book
Connect with Peter Clenott on Facebook & Twitter

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Standing Stark: The Willingness to Engage by Carla Woody @CarlaWoody1

Chapter Two:
Beyond Words

I was leading a very mainstream life. While I had some sense of purpose, I additionally had an underlying feeling that something was seriously lacking. Even though there was a recognition of incompletion, I can’t say that it was a conscious realization, more of a sense of things not expressed, blocked or segregated.

The previous year I’d left the large government agency where I’d worked nearly my entire career up to that point. Being out from under bureaucratic constraints lent a certain kind of freedom that I craved, but a large part of my livelihood was still generated through that environment where I returned as a consultant. I felt the rigidity of the organization to the point that it triggered an aversion in me.

What I now know is that whenever we have an unreasonably strong response to something external, something is lurking internally of the same nature. At the time, I recognized what I can only describe as flatness, a lack of real engagement to anything in which I was involved. It’s unlikely that this fact was apparent to anyone but me. I was known for my mind and abilities for pulling people and projects together. To others, my guess is that I appeared actively engaged in my life. After all, I was busy doing what needed to be done, just like most with whom I came in contact.

But I knew something was omitted. Fourteen years earlier, I’d had a major signal identifying my disconnection. Because of a viral infection that attacked my thyroid, I became extremely ill. I was likely within a hair’s breadth of death before I’d had any inkling of the seriousness of the illness. It probably was only through my mother’s mother-bear-like, protective attention and demands to the physician I finally visited that I am even alive today.

A major crisis such as this one is often the impetus that will kick start a revelation—or revolution. After my recovery, I finally comprehended the level of absurdity and danger that the lack of awareness of my own condition brought. I was able to discern that I wasn’t practicing denial in the sense of not wanting to face something. But more so, I was disconnected from my body to the degree that I had been unable to recognize my lack of health. How could I? My life and level of consciousness was weighted in my head, cut off from my physicality and any real experience or attunement other than mental observation.

I heeded a cry from my Core Self, not even knowing of her existence, and sought out meditation. That was an unlikely avenue back then, only because where I was living at the time offered very few opportunities to explore anything even somewhat resembling consciousness studies. With the help of a couple of books, I put together a practice to which I remained faithful.

Over the years, I found myself becoming increasingly calmer and healthier. I knew that the change was due directly to my dedicated focus on meditation. Indeed, I became much more in tune with my body and its messages to me. I began to trust those messages implicitly, telling me when things were right, or not, in my world.

But I knew something was still missing. I remained an observer to a large degree, not a participant. While I’d read of spirituality and various states that told of that realm, I’d had no direct experience. I intellectually knew that Spirit was an aspect of my makeup, but couldn’t quite grasp even the concept of such a reality. And yet there was something underpinning my entire existence that called out for this wholeness. Some part of me deeply desired integration.

When strong intent is present, the means to fulfill it will automatically appear. But I didn’t know this truth at that point in my journey. I only knew that I felt somewhat fragmented, and one day noticed an ad in a professional journal for a retreat with a Peruvian shaman to be held in the Southern Utah desert. Ignoring the fact that my sole idea of camping then was in pensions in large European cities, or that I didn’t even know what the term “shaman” meant, I felt a strong draw in my body to call and register. So, I did.

Four months later, I flew cross-country to Salt Lake City where I was picked up with some other retreat goers and driven some hours south to a remote canyon in the San Rafael Swell. The beauty of the area was incredible and helped to overwhelm my uneasiness of being with people with whom I wasn’t acquainted, and an upcoming event about which I knew absolutely nothing.

When we finally rolled into the makeshift camp, I climbed out of the truck feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension, the two being closely linked anyway. While in this state, I noticed a brown-skinned man making his way toward me. He had dark, wavy hair, a mustachioed, handsome face, and wore a woven poncho. His eyes sparkled. He smiled broadly and wrapped his arms around me in greeting. As he did so, any fear I felt dissipated immediately and was replaced by great warmth swelling from some place inside me, unlike any I’d ever felt. This was the man the sponsors had advertised as a shaman, the person who, in the years ahead, I would come to know not only as a mystic and teacher of the heart, but a cherished friend—Don Américo Yábar. My meeting him was to change the fabric of my entire life. And I had asked for it unknowingly.

Around the campfire that evening, Don Américo introduced the subject of intent through his translator. He encouraged each of us to set our intent that evening for the week that was to follow. I went off on my own to think about what he’d said, the whole idea of intent being a slippery one, at best, that I had a challenge grasping. However, I decided that I must have set my intent, at some level, before I even came. That was what pulled me to the retreat not even knowing what it entailed. I wanted to be joined. I wanted direct engagement. I wanted integration of my mind, body and spirit. I told no one.

The next morning held the usual gorgeous, blue desert sky. The group had hiked some distance from our camp and found a natural rock amphitheatre. We made ourselves comfortable in the shadows of the boulders, out from under the Utah sun which was already getting quite warm. Don Américo began to speak. I don’t remember now exactly what he said. I was being lulled by the lilting rhythms of his and his translator’s vocal patterns that took the meaning of the words to some unconscious level.

Suddenly, he stopped and gazed intensely at me. He motioned for me to come to the middle of the circle where he stood. Under normal circumstances, I would have done so reluctantly, if at all, not being comfortable “exposing” myself to others in that way. In that case, however, I felt completely at ease.

I approached him. He stood directly in front of me only about eighteen inches away, his liquid brown eyes locking onto mine. It was as though he was channeling pure love directly into my being. Both of his hands hovered right outside my body at the chest level.

Making a motion of pulling apart outside the heart center, he said, “The way to see is with the body’s eye.”

I felt what I could only describe as a sweet welling in that energy center that began to undulate, creating a rippling effect.

He moved one hand up to my forehead. Making a wiping motion in my subtle energy field, he proclaimed, “Not the mind’s eye!”

I felt something shut at that level, all the while the heart energy continued to reverberate. I was unaware of anything other than large waves of effervescent warmth that seemed to echo silently, returning from the stones surrounding us, further intensifying the awakening. People seated around us gasped and murmured. I have no idea how long I stood that way. I do not know how I found my feet to return to my seat. I do not recall what occurred the rest of the day.

I was opened. I was filled. I’d had my first direct experience—beyond words.


Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Nonfiction, Spirituality

Rating – PG

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Connect with Carla Woody on Facebook & Twitter



Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.

Joshua Silverman – Writing Fiction is Research @jg_silverman

One of the most overlooked areas of writing fiction is research. Most writers I’ve come across don’t think of themselves as “researchers”. They just want to tell the best story they can. And that’s admirable, but I believe that to make a story convincing it has to be realistic. To be realistic, it has to be researched. Here are some things that I’ve found in other people’s books which a simple internet search could have avoided.

  1. A man hears a shot from a gun then sees the victim fall. The author should have known most modern day ammunition travels twice the speed of sound so the action would have happened in reverse. The man would have fallen and then the witness would have heard the gunshot.
  2. If you’re writing about the military or soldiers, do not confuse military ranks. The US Army has no rank called “Admiral” and the Navy does not have “Generals.” It’s a five minute Google search to figure this one out.
  3. If you’re writing any type of historical fiction, you better do some serious research. Don’t say George Washington pulled out his iPhone to Google Map the road to Trenton if cell phones didn’t exist in the 1700’s!
  4. If you’re doing any type of setting or environment work. Don’t tell me about the earthquakes in Florida because Florida doesn’t have earthquakes, they have hurricanes. You should know the weather patterns of your environment, the produce, the politics, the immigration, you should know everything.
  5. Don’t write a book about robots and androids without researching cybernetics! Readers are smart, we’ll know.
  6. If you’re writing suspense/murder mystery then you should know a lot about police procedures and the legal system. Don’t tell me the CSI guys do the interviews like on one show I know but they don’t in real life.
  7. Don’t tell me your horse galloped 200 miles in a day. Your horse would be dead.
  8. If you’re writing a sci-fi novel about time travel, you better damn well research quantum physics and current time travel theories because it can get very confusing.

These are just some examples. But I want to stress balance. A writer can spend quite literally years in research if they want. At that time, it might be an exercise in procrastination rather than writing.

I believe in a one to one ratio. For every hour or writing, you probably needed to do an hour of research. Since the Emerald Tablet is based in Greek and Egyptian mythology and culture, I read over 20 non-fiction history books and spent countless hours trying to capture the feel of these ancient societies. Even so, it was easy for me to say “I need to do more research”. Even today, as I’m writing book 3, I’m still researching. Don’t go overboard but make it realistic and believable for your readers. They’ll appreciate it and get lost in the story.


Buy Here

Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy

Rating – PG-13+

More details about the author and the book

Connect with Joshua Silverman on Facebook & Twitter

Website www.legendsofamunra.com; www.joshuagsilverman.com

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

#AmReading - No Way Out by MJ Ware @MJAWare

No Way Out by MJ Ware


Includes two free additional short stories.
That's three 'terrorific' short stories for kids and teens at one low price.
No Way out - Mike takes a bet to go inside a haunted house, but will he live long enough to collect?
Also includes:
The Price of Friendship - How much is a best friend worth? Joey finds out the hard way.
Hobgoblin Horror - Jake only volunteered at the retirement home because Shelby works there. So, it's no wonder he's doesn't hear Mr. Fitches' warnings about a local homicidal hobgoblin--too bad for him.

Includes a free extended preview of Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Author Interview – Brian Bloom @BrianB_Aust

What inspired you to write your first book?

I am a slow thinker. I know a lot of words, but I have trouble putting them together out loud and on the fly – especially when I’m under the affluence of incahol. Too often people don’t understand what I’m talking about. Those with big egos think I’m stupid. Humble people think they’re stupid. Neither is true. When the adrenalin is pumping, I tend to gun-sling words from the hip. Sometimes they hit the mark. Mostly they miss. In the mid 1980s, a mate and I were playing a game of snooker and drunkenly arguing about the gold price. I thought it would go up and he thought I was talking nonsense. My six-gun word bullets were obviously missing the target. In a fit of madness, I finally blurted out: “Okay, I’ll tell you what: I’ll write down all my arguments and you can see them as a cohesive whole.”A week later, I took him about 30 pages of explanation.

“Why don’t you turn this into a book?” he asked. So I did. The book was called “Stock Market Magic” and it turned out to be a three volume self published book of around 50 pages a volume.

How did you develop your writing?

I placed an ad for Stock Market Magic in a local financial newspaper and sold enough copies by mail order to pocket a reasonable profit after paying the cost of the ad. In the hope of getting some publicity, I delivered one full copy to the editor of that paper. A few days later I received a phone call:

“I’m moving to become the editor of a new national broadsheet newspaper. I like the way you write. How would you like to write a weekly column for us?”

“What about?” I asked

“Anything you like.”

And so, my writing career commenced as a sideline to my day-job. I wrote a column called “Albert Tells How”. It was ostensibly a report of a conversation between me and a 300 year old Swiss gnome by the name of Albert. N. Sane. I owned a small factory at the time and Friday was the day I had to pay wages. Naturally, on Wednesday nights I couldn’t sleep so I would go to the refrigerator to get a snack. In those days, the refrigerator light didn’t just switch itself on. Personal service was still important. Like the old days when you stepped into an elevator and the operator would ask “which floor?” That’s how I met Albert. He was 3” tall and he was taking a sabbatical in our ‘fridge.


He had done a deal with Westinghouse. In exchange for free board and lodging it was his responsibility to switch the light on and off whenever it was appropriate. Albert and I became friends. Having lived for 300 years he had seen it all. When I had a business problem or I was worried about the economy or about the stock market, he would draw on his vast experience and calm me down. I was always able to pay the wages on the Friday.


More importantly, I came to understand that, for me, writing could be a “do it first and think about it afterwards” kind of activity. Once a week I would sit at the computer – sometimes with no ideas in my head. When that happened, I would shoot word bullets out of my fingers and, eventually, a coherent pattern would emerge. Then, with a bit of iterative editing, I was able to craft a column. Often the final column looked nothing like the original thoughts. That’s when I came to understand how to manage writer’s block.

So you’ve been writing on and off since the 1980s?

Yup. When I emigrated to Australia with the family in 1987 I stopped for a few years, but then I started blogging from about 2002. Eventually, Denise – my loyal and long suffering wife – turned around and asked me why I didn’t do something more challenging, like write another book. In 2005, I took her advice and decided to write a novel. I had no idea where to start, but I knew that the answer would come to me. You’ve heard the expression “wired for sound”? Well I seem to be “wired for inspiration”. In Denise’s language, my third eye is wide open. So I just waited for inspiration. It didn’t take long.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

The ideas just come to me. Most often it happens in the dead of night when my conscious mind is asleep. Of course, they don’t just come out of the black (it’s night time, remember J); I’m usually mulling over a problem in my mind when I’m awake and, if I can’t solve it I just let it go and I wait.

Eventually, one of two things happens: Either I wake up at around 4:00 am with a clear picture of how to proceed, or a book or a person will jump into my life from somewhere – usually in the daytime, when I’m awake – and in the book or in conversation with that person, there will be a clue. For example, with Beyond Neanderthal, my first novel, a friend of Denise’s suggested that I write about Blue Amber. I had never heard of Blue Amber, but I started researching it and then I put pen to paper and, along the way, I found I was writing about humanity’s social evolution – so I changed the name to Beyond Neanderthal. It was a name that just popped into me head in the dead of night after I realised that the original name , “Blue Amber” would not be appropriate.

This type of experience has been happening to me for most of my life. Denise tells me I’m “plugged in”. I first assumed she was talking about the collective unconscious that Carl Jung spoke about. Later, I came to understand that the entire universe is like a giant database of information – something like The Cloud, only much more all encompassing. Religious people might describe it as the mind of God. New Age followers might talk of Akashic Records. It’s a matter of how one perceives things.

In my imagination, I see how it might have been possible for the prophets of old to tap into that database and see the future. I don’t really understand how it works and I can’t “force” it to happen on demand. I’ve come to understand that I should just go with the flow. My best bet is to maximise the potential for my remaining plugged in to the database. I do this by meditating as often as possible – but no more than once a day – and, recently, I have joined the Tai Chi class that Denise teaches. Mostly, I like to be at one with nature, “surrounded by nobody” as our daughter Jenna used to put it when she was a child. When my mind is quiet, the ideas flow. When my mind is cluttered, it tends to go into cruise-control mode.

How did you come up with the title?

With both books, I asked the question of my unconscious mind and the answer manifested in the dead of night. (I’m not kidding). I think that the names of my two books – Beyond Neanderthal and The Last Finesse are spookily representative of the ideas those books are trying to communicate. Denise would argue that they are examples of my being plugged in.

The Last Finesse

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Genre - Conspiracy Thriller

Rating – MA (15+)

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Brian Bloom – 10 things you didn’t know about the author @BrianB_Aust

10 things you didn’t know about the author

Brian Bloom grew up in a loving environment and with a fiercely independent streak that enabled him to straddle both sides of the financial divide (1% & 99%) with equal comfort. This gave him a balanced view of life and the courage as an author to say what needs to be said in his writing without his worrying unduly about “peer pressure” and/or “political correctness”.  The following 10 things are illustrative of his upbringing:

  1. When Brian was born his parents were dirt poor and when he was 1 the family moved into a tiny cottage at the bottom of his mother’s aunt’s garden. On good weather days his mother would put the +- 15 month old Brian on a blanket out in the fresh air, where he would play for hours. His only toy was a makeshift rattle made out of an old glass Vaseline jar that had an empty wooden cotton reel inside. He would make music, chanting “digga, digga , digga” in time to the rattle and, having not yet learned to walk, he would sway his little body rhythmically as if in mesmerised prayer. He was comfortable in his own company and in natural surroundings.
  2. At age 2, his mother taught him to say “many happy returns” in anticipation the arrival of his 8 year-old girl cousin who was to visit with a friend on her birthday. Brian flubbed the words, saying “many happily turns” and was mortified with shame when the two girls guffawed in merriment.  The positive side was it taught him empathy, and he has looked at the world from the other guy’s perspective ever since.
  3. At around 4, the family moved to their own home in a much poorer suburb than his great aunt’s. With curiosity and no sense of intimidation, he experimented with fire. The Fire Brigade had to be called out twice to douse the voracious blazes. He learned to fear consequences.
  4. When Brian was 5, his great aunt’s son – about 9 months older – came to play but went home much earlier than was expected. Angry and frustrated, Brian decided to walk to their home 20 kilometers away. He walked down the main thoroughfare in peak hour traffic, got lost towards the end, but was offered help by a kindly gentleman who gave him a lift. Brian arrived well after dark at his destination; tearless, unrepentant but anxious.  He was severely punished by his relieved, but even more anxious, parents. He learned to look ahead and differentiate between “smart” and “stupid” behaviour.
  5. At 8 he was effectively a latch-key kid. Both parents worked and the maid was preoccupied with daily chores. He roamed the immediate vicinity, largely unsupervised, and made friends with a couple of kid neighbours. One of these kids lived in a violent home where the mother was routinely beaten by her husband. Brian learned that observation and inoffensive participation were more important than ego and a competitive spirit in a no-win situation.
  6. Also to keep himself occupied, he would travel by tram to a local pool hall, paying the fare with school-bus coupons. He had been attracted by the raucous antics of a group of leather jacketed bikies who adopted him as a mascot because they took a shine to him. It transpired that Brian had a good eye for angles and distances and was able to pot the snooker balls even though he could barely reach over the table top.
  7. At around 10 or 11, he discovered that he also had great ball sense. He was chosen to represent his junior school at both soccer and cricket, and he played first team cricket and hockey at high school. This boosted his inner sense of self confidence and enabled him to socialise unselfconsciously with both peers and those in higher stations of life. But he was always a quiet child, partly because his parents had drummed good manners into him and partly because he had learned not to draw attention to himself when in any situation that might become unmanageably combative.
  8. Another reason he was quiet child was that he was a year younger than the average of his classmates. His parents wanted him to start school at the same time as his three boy cousins, all of whom were around 9 months older. When kids are 20% older than you they are typically much bigger than you. Brian learned that brains trumps muscles under those circumstances.
  9. He finished high school at 16 and had a B.Com Degree when he was 19, at which age he spent 3 months in the South African Air Force under conscription. The barracks had about 40 beds in it, with most occupied by the 99%. Brian blended in just fine and no one resented the fact that he was allowed/encouraged to play golf on week-ends by the CO.
  10. When he was still at school, the family moved to a small holding and was supplied fresh, unpasteurised milk from the cow next door. Brian was shocked when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. By a stroke of good fortune, his uncle (a doctor) had detected it in its very early stages. TB is usually a disease of the working classes or the unemployed, and there was no “private” treatment available.  At 21, Brian was admitted to a public ward in a public TB hospital where the patients were at various terminal stages of wheezing, coughing blood and/or drowning in their own mucus. Even though the other patients regarded the middle class young man as “Richie Rich”, they spoke to him with quiet dignity. Brian expected no preferential treatment from the nurses and the dying men with calloused hands respected him for that.

    Beyond Neanderthal

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    Genre – Thriller

    Rating – MA (15+)

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V. L. Dreyer – The Survivors Book I: Summer @VL_Dreyer

“You don’t want to be alone, do you?”

The tears sprang back unbidden.  Although I tried to blink them away, the lump in my throat made it impossible.  The pressure of spending all those years alone was just too much for me to bear.  My head ached and I felt like I might burst at any second.  I looked away and tried to think of an appropriately sassy response, but all I could think of was little Tigger, the kitten who had been my only companion in many years.

Did I really want to be that alone again?  It hurt just to think about it.  These people were so nice that it brought me back to another place and time.  A time when I was young, before I needed to be afraid of everyone.  Back to being with my family, safe and loved.

Did I really want to go back to the endless silence, where the only kind of conversation I could have was with myself?

No, I really, really didn’t.

I shook my head and closed my eyes against the onslaught of pain.  Michael seemed to understand my turmoil.  He put his arms around me and drew me up against his broad chest, holding me so tenderly it was like he was afraid he might break me if he squeezed too hard.  I tensed right up, before I realised that he was just hugging me in an attempt to comfort me.  I hadn’t been hugged since Grandma died.  I barely even recognised what it was.

It felt… nice.

Lacking the experience to know what to do, I just stood there pathetically, my face pressed up against his chest.  The tears flowed freely, and he held me as I cried.  The longer he held me, the weaker my defences grew and the more the wordless emotion poured out of me.  But even when my shoulders shook and I struggled to muffle the convulsive sobs that fought their way out, he was there for me, like a pillar of strength to hold me up while I was weak.

Something in me had burst.  Over the years, I’d built up an emotional dam to survive. That dam had been full to bursting for a very long time, and every day it was a battle to keep it under control.  Something about the warmth of human contact made it impossible to keep forgetting and keep suppressing, and so I wept.

I wept for all the things I’d lost, for all the things I’d never have, and for all the lives that had been snuffed out in futility all around me.  For the unbearable pain I’d suffered in silence all these years, with no kind of vent or release to keep me sane.

I had no idea how long it was before I regained control of my emotions, but when I did I felt exhausted, drained and sore all over again.  I leaned against him for almost a minute longer while I caught my breath, before I finally broke the embrace.  He let me go, but kept his hands resting on my shoulders, his face full of kindly concern.  Not a word of judgement, no questions, he just waited, giving me as much time as I needed until I was ready to talk to him.


The virus came from deep in Africa.

By the time they had a name for the disease it had wiped out half the continent. Within a year, it had decimated our world. Our species is on the verge of extinction. Only a few of us have survived; those of us lucky enough to be born with a natural immunity to the plague. We scavenge amongst the ruins of our old civilizations, picking out a living from the devastation.

Ten years ago, I watched my family die one by one. Now, I am alone. The year is 2024; it has been a decade since the virus reduced humanity to a scattering of survivors strewn out across the world.

The rules that governed our society are gone.

Without laws to protect the innocent, I have seen the worst of humanity throughout the years. Now, I have found a new family who are determined to show me the best. But a fresh mutation of the virus has started turning the harmless, pathetic infected into monstrous predatory creatures bent on our destruction; even the wildlife is turning against us.

We are forced to leave our home and flee for our lives. It is only through unity that we stand any chance of survival. Enemies wait around every turn. For the sake of our children and our children’s children, we must find some way to survive and flourish again. If we fail, then the human species will cease to exist.

My name is Sandy McDermott, and I am a survivor. This is my story.


Author’s Note:

Although this book does feature the undead, it is not intended to be horror. The Survivors is a little bit apocalyptic, a bit dystopian, a bit science-fiction, a bit zombie horror, and there’s even a dash of romance in there for spice. To quote the very first blogger that got her hands on it: “(The Survivors is) a layered, touching, powerful story of humanity and survival.”

The story takes place in the Waikato region of New Zealand, ten years on after a killer plague erased the majority of our species from the face of the earth. 99.5% of humanity is either dead, or has been reduced to the (mostly) harmless, lumbering undead. The few people lucky enough to be immune to the disease have spent the last ten years struggling to live amongst the ruins of a dead society.

For some people, the time hasn’t been so bad. For other people – like our heroine and narrator, Sandrine McDermott – the last ten years have been a living hell. Without rules to keep people civilized, there’s nothing to keep a lone female safe except her own wits. Sometimes, that’s just not enough.

Life has not been kind to her. In fact, it’s safe to say that fate’s been kind of a bastard. However, it’s also a whimsical bastard. When Sandy injures herself and is forced to go looking for the medication she needs to survive, she finds herself on the receiving end of kindness in the last place she expects. She’s forced her to reassess her place in the world, and her own humanity.

The Survivors is a four-part tale that follows Sandy’s evolution from the psychologically-damaged wreck that she at the beginning of the story, to the true heroine that we need to preserve our species from extinction.

Somehow, some way, she must go from being one of the hopeless wanderers, to being our hope for a new tomorrow.


Want to know what happens next, and can’t wait for the release of Book II? The first three chapters of the next book are currently available on my website at no charge:


Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre - Post-Apocalyptic Survival

Rating - PG-13

More details about the author and the book

Connect with V. L. Dreyer on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.vldreyer.com


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