Rachel Thompson

Sunday, December 29, 2013

#AmReading - Old Gold by Jay Stringer @JayStringer

Old Gold by Jay Stringer


Half-gypsy detective Eoin Miller finds people for a living—usually people who would do anything to remain hidden. Ironic considering Eoin has done all he can to lose himself in a downward spiral that has cost him his job, his respect, his wife, and anything else that ever mattered. But he’s not inclined to dwell on what he’s given up, and Eoin prefers it that way.

Then he meets Mary, a hard-drinking woman on the run who confides that she’s stolen a valuable item, one that certain people would kill to get back. The two of them seek a temporary—and incomplete—solace in each other’s arms, only for Mary to turn up as a corpse in Eoin’s bed the next morning, him asleep on the sofa.

Recalling his father’s aversion to authority, Eoin runs from the body, but he hates a mystery and is driven to discover the truth behind Mary’s murder,
even if it means putting his own life on the line. Before long, Eoin’s tangled up in a ferocious turf war that has him playing his former allies and employers—crime lords, drug dealers, cops, and politicians—against each other.

Author Interview – Ernest Dempsey @ErnDempsey

Can you share a little of your current work with us? The Dream Rider is an up-tempo Science Fiction Novel about a boy who travels to another world in his dreams, and saves an entire planet from an evil emperor. Is it real or just a dream? You decide.

How did you come up with the title? Honestly, it was the first thing that came to my head so I stuck with it because it sounded cool and went right along with the content.

Can you tell us about your main character? Finn McClaren is an average college student. He comes from an Irish American dad and a Mexican American mom. He is mediocre at everything in life and, while he hates being so average, he also finds security in his non-dramatic life.

How did you develop your plot and characters? I wrote the thing twice, got to about halfway done and threw it away. Twice. That was like 80,000 words I totally scrapped. I started over because I didn’t like where the story was going and the flow. I guess I just saw the plot in my head, and the characters too. They are based on people I’ve seen in life.

Who designed the cover? Greg DeCicco. With oil paints. He’s ridiculously talented.

Who is your publisher? Enclave Publishing.

Why did you choose to write this particular book? Seemed like a fun concept and people need something other than vampire and zombie books to read.

What was the hardest part about writing this book? Getting the end right.

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it? Lucid dreaming might be a real thing.

How do you promote this book? I do very little promotion. I promote my blog, and therein, the book. But I rarely tell people to buy anything. I did a little bit with my subscribers and Facebook followers but other than that, not much promo.

Will you write others in this same genre? Yep. Sequel to this one is coming around the holidays.


Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre –  Science Fiction

Rating – PG13

More details about the author

Connect with Ernest Dempsey on Facebook  & Twitter

Website http://ernestdempsey.net/

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Curse Giver by Dora Machado @DoraMachado

Chapter Eleven
THE MAN CRAMMED IN THE COFFIN with Lusielle wasn’t much for words. Talking to a toad would have bettered her chances to learn something pertinent, let alone helpful. A toad would have been more forthcoming and less irritating as well.
She didn’t give a hoot about highborn and their bloody quarrels. After all, the highborn had been plotting against each other for centuries. But if she was going to escape with her life, if she was going to survive her plight, she needed to understand what the Lord of Laonia wanted and why. Her life depended on her wits.
“Word in the kingdom is that Laonians are warmongers,” she said.
A snort. “That’s what Riva would like for you to believe.”
“He’s sent away a lot of able men and women to repel Laonian raids.”
“Have you considered it could be the other way around?”
“Why would we want to attack you?”
“I’m not having this discussion with you.”
How wrong he was. “We’ve heard rumors of a few little skirmishes at the river borders over the years,” Lusielle said.
The man’s body tensed in the darkness. “Skirmishes?”
“King Riva always wins.”
“Do you always believe everything that Riva says?”
“Nobody challenges King Riva and lives.”
“Riva rules over a bunch of fools.”
“The kingdom’s cemeteries are seeded with his opponents’ tombstones.”
“He’s a man, not a god,” the lord said.
“And yet he can’t be defeated.”
“Of course he can be defeated. My father defeated him in battle twice, thirty years ago and then again twenty years ago. And less than two years ago, I repelled a full scale invasion at the Narrows.”
“You did?”
“The tyrant can be defeated. Laonia has seen to that.”
Lusielle was hard pressed to believe what the lord was saying, and yet she had to admit that some of what he said made sense. There had been rumors. Thousands of troops had never returned from the river borders. Sons and daughters forsook their mothers for good. Husbands and wives went missing en masse. Food had grown scarce. Even horses had been difficult to find.
Had the king managed to conceal a major defeat from his subjects? Was the Lord of Laonia telling the truth?
She had never heard anyone else speak ill of King Riva, let alone challenge him openly. Everyone she knew was afraid of Riva. Not even the kingdom’s highborn dared to call the king a tyrant aloud.
The Lord of Laonia might be short of words and quick to anger, but these days, a man had to be very brave to speak as he did.
Curse Giver
Award-Winning Finalist in the fantasy category of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards, sponsored by USA Book News
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Fantasy/Dark Fantasy
Rating – PG-18
More details about the author and the book
Connect with Dora Machado on Facebook & Twitter

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

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Christian Living

Rating – G

More details about the author

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

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – New Adult, Contemporary

Rating – R

More details about the author

Connect with K R Raye on Facebook and Twitter

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

Friday, December 27, 2013

#AmReading - Dark Waters by Toni Anderson @toniannanderson

Dark Waters by Toni Anderson


Danger once again laps at the shores of Barkley Sound, the Graveyard of the Pacific…

Since her rocky childhood and its abrupt, brutal ending, schoolteacher Anna Silver hasn’t given her trust easily. But when her estranged father gets in over his head—again—and winds up dead, his last message to Anna is as clear as it is insistent: she’s in danger and Brent Carver, the man with whom he shared a prison cell for five years, is the only person she should turn to for help. With nowhere else to go and with her father’s killer on her trail, Anna flees to what she hopes is safety.

Tucked into the west coast of Vancouver Island, Brent Carver’s isolated home hasn’t seen many visitors. And his friend’s daughter is the last person he ever expected to grace his doorstep. She’s in trouble, and he can’t deny her protection…just as he can’t deny his attraction to the independent beauty. As their passion sparks into flame, the perfect storm brews off the coast of his island home, bringing with it a sadistic killer hunting Anna and the secrets she’s come close to uncovering.

Author Interview – Brian Cormack Carr @vitalvocation

Sometimes it’s so hard to keep at it – What keeps you going? Writing can be a reward in itself, because it’s enjoyable.  But it’s also great to get feedback.  That’s why it’s so important for writers to develop a good social media presence these days, I think.  It’s really important to engage through social media.  I use Facebook and Twitter, but the key to it all is to have your own website.  I think a website and an associated mailing list are essential tools in an indie authors arsenal, because they can really help you connect with your readership.  When I was deciding on the cover for How To Find Your Vital Vocation (http://www.viewbook.at/vitalvocation) I “crowdsourced” views on the potential covers on my blog as well as through social media.  The response was terrific, and gave me a real boost.  It made me realise that my book really did have an audience out there. http://vitalvocation.com/help-me-choose-the-cover-of-my-job-hunting-and-careers-book/
What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel? In  terms of my nonfiction writing, I want them to get something useful from my writing: practical tools they can use to build a better life and career.  In terms of my fiction – which I will be publishing soon – I’d want them to feel the way I feel when I’m reading a good fiction book.  Captivated and involved, and transported into the world of the story.  That’s the magic of good writing – it can take you out of yourself.
What movie do you love to watch? Recently, I’ve been enjoying the Swedish “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” series.  I love how multi-layered the plots are.  There’s a core mystery at the heart of the story, along with some interesting sub-plots, and of course interesting – and somewhat mysterious – characters.  The perfect ingredients for a good film.  Or a good book…
How do you feel about social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter? Are they a good thing? I think social media is a really important tool for indie authors.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter aren’t the be all and end all (I think your own website and a mailing list are far more important in terms of online presence) but they are incredibly useful in helping us to build our online platform. If you want your writing to be read – and who doesn’t? – then you have to maximise the opportunities that readers have to find you, and social media can really help with that.  The trick is to make sure it doesn’t become a chore to maintain.  A balance has to be struck.  I wrote about building an author platform recently, and in that article I talk about the importance of social media.  http://www.cormackcarr.com/2012/09/02/building-an-author-platform/
If you could do any job in the world what would you do? The job I’m doing.  That’s just as well, considering my first book How To Find Your Vital Vocation (http://www.viewbook.at/vitalvocation) is about finding your dream job!  It’s a privilege to do the work I do.  I manage a great charity, and coach terrific people, and I’m able to write and get my work out there into the world.  I’m proud that I figured out the work that would make me happy and that I took the time to build it.  I’m excited to see how this portfolio career of mine develops.  I’m sure of one thing – my writing will continue to be at the heart of it.
What are you most passionate about? What gets you fired up? My passion is helping people to realise their potential.  We all have dreams inside us and too many of us let them dim before giving them a real chance.  I think giving them a chance – even if they don’t quite take off – leaves us happier than not even trying to make them happen in the first place.  And I don’t make any judgment about what those dreams should look like.  I get irritated at self-help books and pundits who seem to think that everyone wants to be rich and famous and working for minutes a day from a hammock in the Bahamas.  Actually, many of us are very happy doing jobs that some people would consider mundane.  But if they make our heart sing, that’s what matters! How To Find Your Vital Vocation (http://www.viewbook.at/vitalvocation) is all about that.  If I can help another person find their talents and use them to find their ideal work, then my own work has definitely been worth it.

Ready to choose or change your job? Stuck in work you hate? Think the career of your dreams is beyond your reach?
If you don’t love your work, you deserve better – and with this book at your side, you can get it. A lively and potentially life-changing guide,How To Find Your Vital Vocation sets out a simple-to-follow yet profoundly effective process that will take you step-by-step from wherever you are now to a working life based on your most cherished dreams.
  • Hear the inner call that’s telling you what will make you truly happy
  • Rediscover your gifts and use them to build a perfectly-tailored career
  • Identify and overcome the obstacles that stand between you and your ideal work
  • Create powerful networks to help you find great jobs that are never advertised
  • Find out what it takes to become an entrepreneur of the future
  • Maximise the impact of your job applications
  • Ace every interview
  • Attain reward levels that will help you thrive – even in this tough economy!
Put yourself in charge of your career – once and for all. Packed with valuable insights, powerful exercises and illuminating self-coaching questions, How To Find Your Vital Vocation will help you chart a practical path to a fun and fulfilling livelihood. In this comprehensive resource, expert career coach Brian Cormack Carr shows you how to find your passion and purpose and finally start doing the work you were born to do.


“Too many of us have gone about finding our livelihood in a haphazard way. Before long, we become a statistic in a job dissatisfaction survey. Happily, it doesn’t have to be that way and Brian Cormack Carr proves it. If you think that work should be about more – much more – than just a way to pay your bills, this book is the roadmap you’ve been looking for. Work with How To Find Your Vital Vocation for a short time and you’ll be working at your real work for a long time.”
~ BARBARA J. WINTER  Bestselling author of Making a Living Without a Job
“Warm, witty and wise. I highly recommend this book. Brian knows his stuff and How To Find Your Vital Vocation is a breath of fresh air.”
~ GRACE OWEN  Executive coach and author of The Career Itch
“I appreciated the step-by-step nature of Vital Vocation. It made finding a new career that much easier, and I’m still amazed at how well it helped me clarify what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”
~ DAVID  Member of the Vital Vocation Online Coaching Programme
Vital Vocation helped me focus after I had spent too long panicking and going nowhere. Now my part-time hobby has grown to a full-time occupation and I’ve finally given up the day job that was making me sad!”
~ STEVEN  Member of the Vital Vocation Online Coaching Programme
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre –  NonFiction / Careers
Rating – G
More details about the author & the book
Connect with Brian Cormack Carr 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.

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

More details about the author and the book

Connect with H. Peter Alesso on Facebook

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

Thursday, December 26, 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.


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Genre – Nonfiction, Spirituality

Rating – PG

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

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

#AmReading - See Jack Die by Nicholas Black @NicholasBlack60

See Jack Die by Nicholas Black


Jack Pagan might as well be 4½ months old. He awoke in a hospital after suffering a head injury that left him dead for over 67 minutes. All of his long-term memories were destroyed. Now he has to start his life again. But his accidental flirt with death left him a special gift. In those few minutes as he fades off to sleep each night, and in those early hours of the morning as he numbly awakens... he sees them.
At first, the shadows would just stretch into strange shapes and forms. Jack thought that he was hallucinating. That his medication was playing with his vision. Then the strange shadows began to walk around, moving freely. Jack chalked it up to a brain tumor. Some disease in his cerebral cortex. Schizophrenia, even. Something he could live with.
Now these creatures are not only haunting his nights, but his days. And they have a tendency to show themselves around people who are about to die. Seeking help he turns to a psychic who gives him a very special book. A book that he was destined to find. Jack learns that the only way he will ever know about who he was, is to face his worst fears, and die . . . again.
In a series of incredible twists and turns, Jack finds out that the worlds of the living and of the dead are much closer than any of us can possibly imagine. And monsters . . . are real.

Loving Conor: A Clairvoyant’s Memoir on Loving, Bonding and Healing by Tami Urbanek @tamiurbanek

Chapter Three: Surviving Life

I woke up to the phone ringing in the middle of the night.

“Tami, you need to pick me up,” I heard Nyle say.

“Where are you?”

“I’m at 7-11,” he said, slurring his words.

He told me the street and packing Bethany into the car, I drove through a light snowstorm to find him.

I located the correct 7-11 and I walked in looking around for Nyle.

“Hey, are you looking for that drunk?” The 7-11 clerk asked as he nodded at me.

“Was a guy here waiting for someone?” I asked.

“Yeah, he wanted booze, I told him to leave.”

“Do you know which way he went?” I asked.

“Have no idea.”

Leaving the store and getting back in my car, my hands clenched the steering wheel. I drove around looking for Nyle, scolding myself for coming out in the snow with Bethany in a car that didn’t have snow tires, to look for a drunken soon-to-be ex-husband.

I found Nyle wandering the sidewalk. Pulling over, I rolled down the passenger window.

“Nyle, what are you doing? Get in the car.”

He just looked at me, obviously drunk, confused, and swaying as he tried to keep his balance.

He crawled into the front passenger seat, laid his head back, and closed his eyes. I drove him back to my apartment. Once I parked the car, I realized I had no idea how to get him from there to inside my apartment. It was too cold to leave him in the car overnight, though I did consider it. I looked over at Nyle, and I wondered what the hell I was doing and how I was going to get him to wake up.

After continually pushing on his arm to wake him up, he finally roused awake enough to stumble into my apartment. He immediately staggered over to the couch and collapsed on it. I gently placed Bethany in her crib, gazing at her as she slept. In that moment, I was grateful I was divorcing Nyle and knowing my daughter was safe and asleep, I immediately fell asleep too.

I was still on maternity leave, so I was home the next morning when someone came to get Nyle for work.

“Hey, you need to wake him up,” Nyle’s friend said. He had figured out that Nyle was here when he didn’t show up at the barracks last night.

“I tried, I can’t get him up. I think he’s still drunk.”

“He’s going be in trouble if he doesn’t show up to formation.” Giving up, the guy left.

Walking over to Nyle and pushing on him hard, I said, “Nyle, wake up! GET UP! You have to get up for work!” I felt like I was yelling at a deaf person.

He finally opened his eyes and looked at me with a confused expression. He seemed to be trying to remember how he got to my apartment. He slowly sat up, keeping his hands on the couch for balance. He mumbled something, but it sounded as if his mouth was full of cotton. He stood up and with a shaky walk he made his way to the phone as I watched him call a friend to come get him.

Later that day, as I sat on the couch, in my apartment, I looked at my bills and felt my ongoing fear starting to rise. I began looking at my past choices. At eighteen, I had made the choice to marry and by nineteen, I had made a choice to be a mother. I had stayed with Nyle for fifteen months even though he was drinking and would be violent when he was drunk. I wasn’t proud that I was working at McDonald’s to meet basic financial needs, and I was fearful on a daily basis.

How was I going to fix this? How was I going to survive? Would things ever change? Would I ever be happy? Would I ever earn more than slightly above minimum wage? I didn’t know.

I walked around the apartment while Bethany was napping in her crib. Without Nyle there, the apartment was cleaner and I didn’t fear the weekends anymore. I still had to deal with the holes in the doors and walls at some point.

Out of desperation, the next day, I took my wedding ring to the pawnshop and I was grateful for the cash. It had a couple of diamonds, so they offered me a decent sum of money.

When my mom called to see how I was doing, I told her I had pawned my wedding ring.

“Why did you pawn your ring?”

“I needed the money,” I said, feeling depressed.

“Well, we’ll give you the money to go and buy it back. You don’t want to pawn your ring.” With my parents’ financial assistance, I bought back my ring before it was sold to someone else. But what about next month, when money would once again be tight?

That week, the manager at McDonald’s called to make sure I was still coming back to work when my maternity leave ended.

I told him I couldn’t wait to get back to work and I meant it. I was looking forward to having at least a few dollars in my wallet.

I spent the next couple of weeks getting on a schedule with Bethany and looking for home daycares. I found one near my apartment.

I returned to work, and I happily started earning money again. I was receiving child support, and life began to take on a more routine state, but I was experiencing a lot of anxieties. I still wanted a man to make me feel better about myself. I didn’t understand that I was not giving myself the credit I deserved in being able to love and take care of myself. As a result, I drew in the same types of people and relationships as before.

Not long after returning to work, I ran into Josh, a guy I had briefly dated when I was seventeen years old. We easily picked up where we left off and we quickly became exclusive in our dating.

Initially, Josh was attentive toward Bethany, and we had fun getting to know each other again, but it didn’t take long before we began to fight. We would get into yelling matches that were reminiscent of my relationship with Nyle, always fighting about something that wasn’t even important. We were young, immature and neither one of us knew how to communicate. Still, I was thankful he was in my life when one day out of the blue, I found Nyle knocking on my door.

“Tami, can we talk?” Nyle asked. Standing there waiting for me to say it was okay for him to come into the apartment. His hands were in his pockets and I noticed the tension he held in his shoulders.

“I guess…”

He walked into my apartment and sat down on the couch.

“Tami, I’m sorry. I screwed up.” He paused and then said, “I know I messed up with you….” Nyle’s voice trailed off and I waited for him to continue, not really knowing where this was heading.

He finally continued, “What do you think. Could we try again?”

I looked at him wondering what to say. Despite our fighting, I had strong feelings for Josh and now, here was Nyle apologizing and proposing we try again. As I paused, not sure what to say to him, I looked around my apartment. It was cleaner, and I immediately noticed the still unpatched holes in the wall and doors. I wasn’t sure I wanted to start again and have the same old result of drunken weekends.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea…” I said.

He left without much hesitation. That was my clue that he wasn’t invested in starting over, but maybe just looking for convenience. I knew he never liked living in the barracks on base. Also, I always wondered if his mother had talked him into trying to get back together or if it was all his idea. I knew she wanted me to take care of him.

I had begun to understand that it was never my job to take care of Nyle. That was his job. Although it took me a few years to fully realize that I needed keep my focus on caring for Bethany and myself. Even then I had begun to understand this and that I didn’t need to feel guilty for leaving Nyle.


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Genre - Memoir

Rating – PG-13

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Author Interview - Ramz Artso @RamzArtso

Image of Ramzan Artsikaev

How much of the book is realistic?

A lot of it is realistic, especially the ‘penultimate parts’.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot?

No, the book has very little to do with me and my personal life.

How important do you think villains are in a story?

I think villains make up fifty percent of the book. That’s exactly why I give so much attention and great detail to my main villain.

Who is your favorite author and why?

J.K. Rowling is my favorite author, because her Harry Potter books are exceptionally interesting.

Can we expect any more books from you in the future?

You can definitely expect a lot of books from me in the future. And I mean a lot!


Peter Simmons thinks he is an ordinary boy, before he is abducted by a man with certain special abilities, learns of his inescapable destiny, befriends immortals and becomes famous wordlwide. Why? Because Peter Simmons is mankind’s last hope for survival.

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Genre – Young-adult, Action and Adventure, Coming of Age, Sci-fi

Rating – PG-13

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Website http://ramzartso.blogspot.com/

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The King of Sunday Morning by J.B. McCauley @MccauleyJay

The Mile End Mambo
He held him in his arms and looked into the glassy eyes. Yellow flecks dotted the cornea. This boy was dead a long time before Roger had run him through. He knew the look. Too much top shelf and not enough down time.
The body from which life dramatically seeped away began to convulse. It would not be a Hollywood death. It would be a harsh demise for this gangster. Unexpected but unavoidable. He had stepped on the wrong toes and nobody touched Roger’s patch.
The big screen had always glamorised death but there was nothing glamorous about having a gaping 12-inch gash where your stomach had once been. Roger’s white shirt was splattered with blood and sputum. He noted to himself with an air of cold detachment that he would have to dispose of it later. The boy soldier’s back arched in agony. A gurgling noise rushed from his throat and then he was gone.
Roger put his arm underneath the boy’s knees and slowly lifted him from the red morass that had filled the doorway. He cradled him in his arms and walked slowly along the pavement. A young couple averted their gaze as he struggled with the limp body. They knew not to look. This was after all the witching hour in the East End. What you don’t see, you can’t tell. He turned the corner and moved into another shop doorway. It was a Dixon’s electrical shop exalting the latest stereos and TV’s.
Roger placed the body carefully on the ground. He took one final look at what 10 minutes ago had been the epitome of arrogance, bravery and youth, then left. He walked quickly to the edge of Walters Street, turned into Burden and darted through a now deserted car park and onto Rially. He saw a red telephone box just up from Dunston Road. He opened the door and tried to ignore the stench of piss and shit. He dialled the number and waited patiently for the connection.
His rich baritone West-Indian voice caressed the receiver.
“Yeah, he’s in Dixon’s shopfront on Walters Street.” He paused, digesting the question on the other end of the line.
“Yeah he’s dead. Dead as a door nail. See you at home.”
With that, he hung up the phone and disappeared into the night. His red Rasta beanie swaying as he loped through the shadows. The victim wouldn’t be missed. Roger had nothing to fear. The status quo had been maintained and an example had been made.
Most of all, Rudi would be pleased.
King of Sunday Morning
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Genre – Thriller, Action, Suspense, Gangster, Crime, Music
Rating – PG-18
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Saturday, December 21, 2013

#AmReading - Meta by Tom Reynolds @tomreynolds

Meta by Tom Reynolds


It’s been ten years since Connor Connolly lost his parents in ‘The Battle’; a fight between The Governor and Jones, two of the world’s strongest metas. Before ‘The Battle’ the world had been full of metas, super-powered humans whose amazing abilities came from mysterious wristbands. Since that day one has never been seen again.
Now 16 years old, Connor lives in Bay View City with his older brother Derrick, a meta-obsessed blogger, where he’s just trying to keep his head down long enough to survive high school. All of that changes the night he attempts to save a girl's life and wakes up to find the first new pair of metabands anyone has seen wrapped around his wrists.
Connor soon finds an unlikely ally in Midnight, a masked vigilante who helps him learn how to harness his new abilities, while also trying to balance his summer job at the lake. As a meta, Connor becomes known as Omni, potentially the most powerful meta the world has ever seen, but it isn’t long before he finds out he's no longer alone...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Becoming Human (The Exilon 5 Trilogy, Book 1) by Eliza Green @elizagreenbooks

Eliza Green

Two Worlds. Two Species. One Terrifying Secret.

In 2163, a polluted and overcrowded Earth forces humans to search for a new home. But the exoplanet they target, Exilon 5, is occupied. Having already begun a massive relocation programme, Bill Taggart is sent to monitor the Indigenes, the race that lives there. He is a man on the edge. He believes the Indigenes killed his wife, but he doesn’t know why. His surveillance focuses on the Indigene Stephen, who has risked his life to surface during the daytime.

Stephen has every reason to despise the humans and their attempts to colonise his planet. To protect his species from further harm, he must go against his very nature and become human. But one woman holds a secret that threatens Bill’s and Stephen’s plans, an untruth that could rip apart the lives of those on both worlds.

BECOMING HUMAN, part one in the Exilon 5 trilogy, is a science fiction dystopian adventure that you won’t want to put down.

˃˃˃ Thought Provoking SciFi, Dystopian Tale – Compulsion Reads

I would happily recommend this book to fans of dystopia, science fiction and conspiracy lovers. You will be in for an exciting ride.

˃˃˃ Excellent Use of ForeShadowing – Masquerade Crew

This book demonstrates why I read Indie books and have enjoyed doing so immensely. Yes, some self-published books don’t deserve to see the light of day, but this isn’t one of those. Far from it. It was exciting and it had mystery. It sets up the next book while still giving you closure in this one–a difficult task for a book in a series.

˃˃˃”Becoming Human”… a promising first book… 4 1/2 Stars – Top 1000 Amazon Reviewer

A well written and deftly told Sci-Fi tale that got better and better.

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Genre – Science Fiction

Rating – PG13

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Website http://www.elizagreenbooks.com

Great White House by Christoph Paul @ChristophPaul_


Most stories should not start with “it was a dark and stormy night” but this evening in Washington, DC could be described no other way. A great storm was raging, as were key members of Congress and other important figures. The politicians waited in silence staring at a blank satellite screen for the eccentric Chinese President Xi Jinping to appear and discuss the massive debt America owed China.

The group was in the East Room of the White House above the library, where a small window reflected the faces of those who had enough ‘klout’ to sit at the round table with President Obama and Vice President Biden.

It would be any news reporter's dream to sit alongside these political heavyweights, but the “China Task Force” or C.T.F. had made this a closed conference, top-secret event. So secret, even Snowden didn’t know about it.

Even if the White House let the press in, the reporters would not have made it through the heavy downpour in Washington, DC. Visibility in the city was close to zero. Normal traffic ended hours earlier as young and old government employees hunkered down in their favorite bars to weather the storm.

Now, rain poured so hard the echoes of the downpour shot through the White House, giving attention to the awkward silence in the East Room.

As the large teleprompter screen remained blank, an animated Michele Bachmann broke the silence. “I just don’t trust these Chinese, even with their food. My husband ends up having problems with his rectal area after he eats it when I’m away. You should see the fees I pay his proctologist. Thank the good Lord we don’t have ObamaCare or he wouldn’t be able to walk.”

The other members of the C.T.F. remained silent, as most believed Mr. Bachmann to be a closeted homosexual. Being the peacemaker, President Obama wanted to avoid any divisive issues. “Yes. I understand. Chinese food, though delicious, bothers my stomach and Michelle’s as well Congresswoman Bachmann.”

Joe Biden rose from his chair and headed toward the decanter on a table at the side of the room. “Hey, Barry, I thought it was only black guys that were late, not the Chinese. Ha. That's good one.”

The oft-amused Biden smiled and gave a self-satisfactory laugh. President Obama shook his head, grateful the press wasn’t here to catch another ‘JoeGaffee.’ Biden poured himself a glass of scotch as Obama popped a piece of Nicorette in his mouth.

“Since this meeting is 'not official,' I suppose it's all right to have a drink.” Biden cheered the room. He brought another cup over to Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan and sat back down; the two had become close since their 2012 Vice Presidential debate and would drink over the ‘malarkey’ of the day.

Eric Cantor, next to his also-tanned counterpart Majority Leader Boehner, was fed up with the jokes. “In all seriousness, what the Chinese President is doing is a power move. It’s a psychological display of dominance. You can’t trust a communist.”

Senator Ted Cruz slammed his fist on the table. “Those commies will play mind games. I agree.”

Congresswoman Pelosi raised her hand. “Excuse me, but I’m more worried about this storm. We might be stuck here.” She gestured at the window. “This storm has gotten dangerous. I'm telling you, it's global warming. Only global warming could cause a downpour of this magnitude! My constituents are very worried about this issue and so am I.”

Democrat Senator Harry Reid and Socialist Bernie Sanders agreed but Congresswoman Bachmann and Congressman Tim Scott shook their heads in annoyance and said a silent prayer for the socialists in the room.

Other Republicans rolled their eyes at Pelosi’s statement. Libertarian-leaning Senator Rand Paul responded, “If global warming even exists, the market will fix it. What we need to worry about is the debt. The Chinese have every right to call this emergency meeting and to want their money.”

Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner (who was called out of retirement to help out the C.T.F.) nodded in approval of Senator Paul’s market solution.

President Obama took a deep breath and offered a fake but serene glance to acknowledge Paul's statement. He put his hand up and quieted the room. “Now, now, let's not have the global warming debate right now, folks. There is talk that the Chinese are very upset about our debt and want us to pay now, which is a surprise to us all. But that is not the only reason for this emergency meeting. The NSA has heard some terrorist chatter about an attack on Annapolis that could dismantle many of our Navy’s resources. They say the Chinese might know about it. We might be in for a long night. Look, if the storm gets worse, you can sleep here; it’s a big house. We can sell to it to the press as a political sleepover. They’ll find that cute and bipartisan.”

New York Senator Schumer rubbed his temples in frustration. “Oi vey, I don’t have my Ambien.”

Senator McCaskill gave him a nice Missouri smile.

“It’s okay, Chuck. You can have some of mine. Senator Rubio, I have some bottled water if you need it, too.”

The group laughed and Senator Rubio inwardly grimaced at the overused joke but mustered a smile that only a man running for President in 2016 could pull off.

Senator McCain put down his unfinished poker game. “You pansies and your sleeping pills. When I was in Vietnam I slept on pure steel and spider shit… President Obama, sir, I’m sick of waiting for these communists. Either you call them or I will.”

President Obama saw an annoyed crowd and felt the temperature in the room rising. On days like this he was sick of being President but he knew this was not a time for self-pity. He looked out at the storm and thought of his Kenyan father herding goats in this type of downpour. His father would not have been deterred by hardships like this. The President sighed with finality. “All right, John, enough is enough. Let’s get President Xi Jinping on screen. We’ve waited long enough.”  

Great White House NEW COVER

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Genre – Fiction, Humor

Rating – PG-13

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

#AmReading - Sovereign by E.R. Arroyo @ERArroyo

Sovereign by E.R. Arroyo


Chemical warfare has obliterated most of the world, including America, and the survivors have turned into feral beasts, save one colony, Antius, the last remnant of civilization. Seventeen-year-old Cori (aka Citizen 1206) only longs for wide open spaces and freedom. But Antius has no use for such things, just mindless drones to serve in a place with walls, fences, and laws. A lot of laws, which Cori constantly breaks. So she’s spent years plotting her escape, which is the only thing that will save her from the colony’s deranged leader, Nathan. She isn’t looking to be a hero, and she certainly isn’t looking to fall in love, but she just might do both.

The Eden Plague (Plague Wars) by David VanDyke @DVanDykeAuthor


A hard-hitting military technothriller, ON SALE for a limited time. Pick it up today before it’s back to its normal $3.98 price.

A Kindle Book Review 2013 Best Indie Award Winner semi-finalist. thekindlebookreview.net/2013-book-awards/

Rule #1: Try not to shoot your future wife. When special operations veteran Daniel Markis finds armed invaders in his home and it all goes sideways, he soon finds himself on the run from the shadowy Company and in possession of a genetic engineering breakthrough that might throw nations into chaos. Out of options, Daniel turns to his brothers in arms to fight back and get the answers he needs. Soon he takes possession of a secret that threatens the stability of the world, as he leads a conspiracy to change everything.

Eden Plague leads readers into the exciting and engrossing Plague Wars apocalyptic-thriller series. It borrows from the traditions of Michael Crichton, Dean Koontz, with shades of David Drake, Jerry Pournelle, S. M. Stirling, Vaughn Heppner and B.V. Larson.

Also from David VanDyke:

The Plague Wars Series:
- The Eden Plague
- Reaper’s Run
- The Demon Plagues
- The Reaper Plague
- The Orion Plague
- Cyborg Strike
- Comes the Destroyer

Stellar Conquest Series:
- Planetary Assault – contains First Conquest: Stellar Conquest Book 1
- Desolator: Book 2
- Tactics of Conquest: Book 3 (Winter 2013)

PG-13 for language, violence and adult situations (non-explicit)

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Genre – SciFi, Adventure

Rating – PG13

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Blog https://davidvandyke.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Julia (The Good Life series) by Sarah Krisch


The Good Life Book One

Chapter 1


...and looking out on the two acres of newly planted seedlings, I feel a sense of satisfaction that only working your own land can bring. Although my back is sore and dirt cakes my fingernails, I know that the land gives back so much more than the effort I put into it. Inhaling the fragrant spring air, feeling the sun's gentle warmth, I am at peace. For tonight, my family will feast on cream of asparagus soup, an early season tossed green salad, and a crusty home-baked bread that melts on your tongue. Pair this with a bottle of local elderberry wine, and you're living the good life.

Julia closed her eyes, her fingers a hair's width from striking the laptop's keyboard. She could almost feel the sun on her cheeks, smell the freshly turned soil. It was a comfort she would often recall whenever she needed a reminder of some of the happiest moments of her life. As a child she'd spent her summer months living at her grandparents' farm in Harmony Grove, Iowa. In retrospect, those quaint, stuck-in-time summer vacations were a great way to grow up, but she couldn't be happier having moved to Chicago—or living with Nora, her best friend since they'd been paired as college roommates eight years ago.

The click of high heels brought her out of her reverie. Julia looked up to see the overly made-up face of the nail tech as she glanced at the timer and whispered, "Five more minutes." Julia nodded and looked back at her laptop screen.

She sighed, happy to have finished another weekly column. Not only was it finished, it was actually pretty darned good. Nine months of weekly columns… she never imagined it would last so long, or that she would even have enough to write about to keep it fresh and interesting. When she'd started the column as a simple blog she never thought anyone would read it. But somehow, in the mysterious workings of the internet, her little Wordpress blog had garnered a following, a following that soon outgrew the free domain world of Wordpress. Her blog, The Good Life, had been syndicated by the Chicago Herald website for six months. Her thousand loyal readers had now become ten times that amount, and growing.

She saved the file to her laptop, careful not to smudge her manicure, and then emailed a copy to her editor at the Herald.

When the timer went off, Gloria, the owner of the salon, approached with a smile and lifted the hairdryer. "How was your day of beauty?"

Julia stood up from the pedicure drying station and glanced down at her toes. "I finally look worthy of the gorgeous Jimmy Choos I bought last week. They only cost me a month's worth of columns."

"I don't know how you get any work done here with all of this racket going on."

"When I'm working on my column, I'm not really here," Julia said as she closed her computer and stowed it in her laptop bag. "I'm at the farm."

"You sure don't look like a farm girl to me."

"And thanks to all of your fabulous skills, I never will." Julia wiggled her fingernails, gleaming with fresh polish. She hadn't had her hands in freshly turned soil in many years.

"None of your readers suspect that you're really just a city girl with an active imagination?"

"No, ma'am. That's one of the reasons I keep coming back to you. Beautician-to-client confidentiality," Julia said with a wink.

"Your secrets are safe with me, girl," Gloria said as she walked Julia to the cash register. "Same time next week?"

Julia handed over her well-used Visa. "You know I can't resist."


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Genre – Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG-13

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Author Interview – Vadim Babenko

What’s your favorite place in the entire world? Outer Banks, NC, USA

How has your upbringing influenced your writing? I received an excellent education – for which I’m very grateful to the Soviet Union, a country that no longer exists. And I grew up reading great Russian literature, which significantly shaped my literary tastes.

Perhaps the most important thing I got from my childhood and my youth is a habit of not being frightened by problems that appear unsolvable, or goals that look unachievable. And that’s important for a writer: when you start a book it often seems impossible to take all those diverse thoughts that scurry through your head and put them into words on a page. :)

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I read a lot as a child, from the age of four. I considered books to be the most fascinating things in the world, and I always knew I would write fiction myself. I just knew it; no one told me about it or encouraged me in any way. I even had “writer dreams” – line after line of a written text running before my eyes and resounding in my head. I didn’t understand the meaning of the words, but I felt their rhythm.

When and why did you begin writing? At the age of 22, my head suddenly became full of rhymed lines. I had to get rid of them, so I started to write poetry. It was very bad poetry.

How long have you been writing? 30 years.

A Simple Soul

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – PG13

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Website http://www.vadimbabenko.com/

Love Unbroken (Love, Life, & Happiness) by Sheena Binkley @ChevonBink



I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone when I arrived at Shaw University. After my last stint at love, the only thing I wanted to focus on is getting through my first semester of college without any drama. That was my intentions, until I met Shawn Walker. At first I didn’t like him. He was arrogant and cocky; someone that I could easily despised, if he wasn’t so damn sexy. But one night changed my thoughts about him. I was able to let down my guard and be myself. Now, I have a second chance at love. Will I let myself love again, or will I continue to live in the past?


After my last girlfriend cheated on me, love was not on my agenda. I tried to escape it at all costs, until I met Riana Robertson. After thinking she was like every other girl, I easily avoided being around her, but that night, when I saw what happened to her, I had to help her. I had to protect her. That night changed the way I felt about her and I realized I could fall hard for her. But will our relationship survive once she finds out the truth about me. Or will I lose her forever…

This story is intended for readers 17+ (adult content/language, sexual content/language).

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Genre - New Adult Romance

Rating – R

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Rebekah's Quilt by Sara Barnard @TheSaraBarnard

“The Lord has blessed me by making sure I am a part of a family and village so generous and caring, I have no doubt about that.”

Joseph’s face broke into a dazzling, dimpled grin.

Like the sun. In an odd display of forthrightness, words tumbled off her tongue. “But the fishing pole was my favorite.”

Ducking his head, Joseph held up a packet of cheesecloths, tied up with a black ribbon. “Even more than these … well … things?”

Rebekah snatched them playfully. “Cheesecloths!”

Tilting his head down, Joseph stared at her, the ghost of a smile lingering on his lips. Slowly, he took a step toward her.

Longing for even the briefest of brushes from his skin to hers, Rebekah forced herself to remain still. She inhaled deeply in an attempt to still her thundering heart. His sweet, woodsy scent left her head spinning.

“I’m glad you loved your gift,” he whispered. His breath was aromatic, smelling of honey and coffee.

“I loved making it for you.”

Rebekah feared she may melt into a puddle on her family’s sitting room floor. Ever ladylike, she clasped her sweaty hands behind her back.

Bringing his hand up painfully slow, she watched from the corner of her eye as he hesitated, only a moment beside her cheek, before continuing up to touch the brim of his black felt hat.

“Goodnight, sweet Rebekah. And happy, happy birthday.”


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Genre - Romantic Historical Fiction

Rating – PG

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

#AmReading - True Grime by Natasha Deen @natasha_deen

True Grime by Natasha Deen


Grime cop and teen fairy Pepper Powder lives for one thing: protecting the human species from magical zealots who seek to eradicate them with Violent Illness of Unusual Resistance and Strength (humans call them “viruses,” but their mistake is understandable. The very young often get their words wrong.). When a terrorist leader releases a necrophage bomb, it not only decimates Grime headquarters, it turns Pepper into the magical world’s first fairy amputee—but she’s not going to let a little thing like a missing leg stop her. To catch her criminal, and prevent him from unleashing a V.I.U.R.S in one of the human world’s biggest shopping centers, West Edmonton Mall, she goes undercover as a human. But once Pepper's theories of humanity collide with the reality of bullies, cliques, and environmental destruction, will she still believe humanity's worth saving?

The Beautiful American by Marilyn Holdsworth @m_holdsworth

Part I 
 The Desk
Chapter 1
Going once; going twice.” The auctioneer hesitated for dramatic effect, scanning the audience. “Any more advance on this exceptional piece? Ladies and gentlemen, look at the intricate carving, the magnificent craftsmanship,” he pleaded. “Any more advance? Last chance,” he threatened, waving his gavel in midair. “Sold!” The gavel banged, and scattered applause rippled through the crowd.
“Smart buy goes to the little lady in the third row. What’s your number again?”
Abby hoisted her bidding paddle, her hands trembling and heart racing with a heady surge of excitement. “I got it,” she whispered. “I got it.” She picked up her shoulder bag and edged down the row of filled seats to the main aisle. Minutes later, she was standing at the cashier’s counter writing out a check to pay for her purchase. She knew she had paid more than she had budgeted for the piece. A couple of aggressive dealers had pushed the price higher, but she was determined to have it, and she had offered the winning bid.
She had fallen hopelessly in love with the desk after seeing it at the auction’s morning previews. Although its finish was age worn, its intricate inlaid woods and slender, tapered legs gave it an elegant, graceful style. And it was the perfect size for a lady—for her. It was the gift she had promised herself when her business was finally flourishing. And this had been an excellent year for her. Not only was her shop, Abby’s Antiques and Collectibles, successful, but she had landed some lucrative decorating contracts as well. Finding and purchasing period pieces at affordable prices for customers had become her specialty, and demands for her services were growing. She had a special talent for tracking down and authenticating hidden treasures and loved doing it. But this morning’s find was for her. Her hand still slightly trembled as she wrote out the check, signed it, and handed it to the cashier with her driver’s license for identification.
The clerk smiled, glanced at her signature, and studied the picture on her license before handing it back to her. “Abigail Cecilia. Pretty name, not one you hear often these days,” he commented.
“From my dear grandmother. Old fashioned name. Old fashioned girl.” Abby laughed, pushing a strand of her long strawberry-blond hair back from her brow. Her thickly lashed, blue-green eyes and fresh, dewy complexion gave her a much younger appearance than the thirty-two years on her driver’s license. And in her loose-fitting peasant dress with flat shoes, she looked much smaller than the five-foot-seven statistic. Even her hair in the picture was shorter, darker, causing the clerk to give her a final appraisal before dropping her check into the cash drawer.
“You gonna need delivery for this?” he asked, waving the receipt.
“I can manage if somebody will help me load it into my van. I’m parked right outside.”
“Just hand the guys at pickup this slip, and they’ll load it.”
“Thanks.” Abby beamed at him and turned away from the counter.
“Quite a buy ya just made.” A short, chubby man with a baseball cap pulled down to his protruding ears pushed through the line to her. “Wanna sell it. I’ll give ya a good deal. Make a quick profit. What do ya say?”
“It’s not for sale,” Abby answered, firmly turning away from the man.
“Ya ain’t gonna get a better offer,” he persisted, blocking her way, his hand reaching out to take her arm.
“Get out of the lady’s way,” a deep voice sounded from behind her, and the man took a step backward.
“Okay, okay, ya don’t need to stick your nose into nothin’, buddy. I was just offerin’ the lady a cool deal. That’s all. Piece of junk ain’t worth it anyhow. She paid too much for it anyway.” The man scowled as he pushed his way through the crowd and disappeared into the auction warehouse.
“I hope he didn’t alarm you too much. Sometimes these dealers just can’t let go of an item. I think he’s pretty harmless, but just to be careful, I’d be happy to escort you to your car.”
“I’m sure I’ll be all right. But thanks. He’s gone now, and I’m going to leave too as soon as I can pick up my desk and get some help loading it.” Abby smiled up at the tall young man facing her. He was dressed in a pair of hip-hugging jeans, a T-shirt, and athletic running shoes. A shock of wavy, dark brown hair fell across his forehead, giving him a casual, boyish look, but his intense hazel eyes showed his concern for her. And as she moved toward the sign indicating the pickup station, he fell into step beside her.
“Sorry, I should have introduced myself sooner. I’m Nathan Edwards,” he offered apologetically as they walked out of the warehouse onto a wide concrete loading dock, where numerous items were lined up waiting to be claimed.
“And I’m Abby Long,” she responded, anxiously scanning the various pieces of furniture and artwork for her desk. “Oh, there it is,” she said, relief sounding in her voice. “Just as beautiful as I remembered from the previews. Thank goodness I got here early and was able to see it up close. Sitting in the audience, even in the front rows, it’s hard to see the details of a piece. And that auctioneer kept up such a furious pace, I thought for a minute there I was going to be caught in a bidding war.” She handed the stock boy her pickup slip. “Did you buy anything?” she asked as she watched her desk being carefully lifted down off the dock.
“Not today. I didn’t find quite what I was looking for. If your desk had been two or three times bigger, you might have had a real battle taking it away from me,” he said, laughing. “It’s perfect for a lady, but my long legs wouldn’t begin to fit beneath it.”
“You’re looking for a desk? Any special period or style?”
“Just one I like. Big enough, roomy enough, and preferably with a leather insert on the top. I saw one a couple of months ago I liked, and I could kick myself for letting it get away. Didn’t make my mind up fast enough, and it sold right out from under my nose. Auctions are fun, but you have to move quickly or you lose out,” he said ruefully.
“You’ll have to come by my shop. I have a couple of desks, one in particular you might like—beautiful mahogany finish with a leather top like you were describing.” Abby dug into her bag and handed him a card.
Nathan took the card, pocketed it, and followed her out to the parking lot. When her desk had been loaded into her van, Abby turned to him smiling. “Thanks again for rescuing a damsel in distress. I really did appreciate it,” she said, offering her hand to him. “And, Nathan—it is Nathan isn’t it?”
He nodded, still holding her hand.
“Don’t forget about the desk. It might be just what you’re looking for. We’re open weekdays nine to five and Saturdays ten to three.”
“I might just do that. Like to see it,” he said, smiling warmly at her as she slid behind the wheel and started up the motor. He watched her van turn out of the parking lot into the busy intersection and disappear down the street.
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Genre - Biographies & Memoirs
Rating – PG-13
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