Jack Canon's American Destiny

Broken Pieces

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Peter Simmons and the Vessel of Time by Ramz Artso @RamzArtso


Chapter 4

Portland, Oregon

October 22nd

Afternoon Hours

I sauntered out of the school building with my friends in tow and pulled on a thickly woven hat to cover my fluffy flaxen hair, which was bound to be frolic even in the mildest of breezes. I took a deep breath and scrutinized my immediate surroundings, noticing an armada of clouds scudding across the sky. It was a rather blustery day. The shrewd, trilling wind had all but divested the converging trees off their multicolored leaves, pasting them on the glossy asphalt and graffiti adorned walls across the road. My spirits were quickly heightened by this observation, and I suddenly felt rejuvenated after a long and taxing day at school. I didn’t know why, but the afternoon’s indolent weather appealed to me very much. I found it to be a congenial environment. For unexplainable reasons, I felt like I was caught amidst a fairytale. It was this eerie feeling which came and went on a whim. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Perhaps it was triggered by the subconscious mind brushing against a collage of subliminal memories, which stopped resurfacing partway through the process.

Anyhow, there I was, enjoying the warm and soporific touch of the autumn sun on my face, engaging in introspective thoughts of adolescent nature when Max Cornwell, a close, meddlesome friend of mine, called me from my rhapsodic dream with a sharp nudge in the ribs.

‘Hey, man! You daydreaming?’

I closed my eyes; feeling a little peeved, took a long drag of the wakening fresh air and gave him a negative response by shaking my head.

‘Feel sick or something?’ he persisted.

I wished he would stop harping on me, but it looked like Max had no intention of letting me enjoy my moment of glee, so I withdrew by tartly saying, ‘No, I’m all right.’

‘Hey, check this out,’ said George Whitmore,–who was another pal of mine–wedging himself between me and Max. He held a folded twenty dollar bill in his hand, and his ecstatic facial expression suggested that he had just chanced upon the find by sheer luck.

‘Is that yours?’ I asked, knowing very well that it wasn’t.

‘No, I found it on the floor of the auditorium. Just seconds before the last period ended.’

‘Then perhaps you should report your discovery to the lost and found. I’m sure they’ll know what to do with it there.’

‘Yeah, right. That’s exactly what I’m going to do,’ he said, snorting derisively. He then added in a somewhat defensive tone, as if trying to convince himself more than anyone else, ‘I found it, so it’s mine–right?’

I considered pointing out that his intentions were tantamount to theft, but shrugged it off instead, and followed the wrought-iron fence verging the school grounds before exiting by the small postern. I was in no mood for an argument, feeling too tired to do anything other than run a bath and soak in it. Therefore, I expunged the matter from my mind, bid goodbye to both George and Max and plunged into the small gathering of trees and brush which we, the kids, had dubbed the Mini Forest. It was seldom traveled by anyone, but we called it that because of its size, which was way too small to be an actual forest, and a trifle too large to be called otherwise.

I was whistling a merry tune, and wending my way home with a spring in my step, when my ears abruptly pulled back in fright. All of a sudden, I couldn’t help but feel as if I was being watched. But that wasn’t all. I felt like someone was trying to look inside of me. Right into me. As if they were rummaging in my soul, searching its every nook and cranny, trying to fish up my deepest fears and darkest secrets. It was equivalent to being stripped naked in front of a large audience. Steeling myself for something ugly, I felt the first stirrings of unease.


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

Rating – PG-13

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Connect with  Ramz Artso on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://ramzartso.blogspot.com/

Thursday, November 28, 2013

#AmReading - Defending Jacob by William Landay @williamlanday

Defending Jacob by William Landay


Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney for two decades. He is respected. Admired in the courtroom. Happy at home with the loves of his life, his wife, Laurie, and teenage son, Jacob.
Then Andy’s quiet suburb is stunned by a shocking crime: a young boy stabbed to death in a leafy park. And an even greater shock: The accused is Andy’s own son—shy, awkward, mysterious Jacob.
Andy believes in Jacob’s innocence. Any parent would. But the pressure mounts. Damning evidence. Doubt. A faltering marriage. The neighbors’ contempt. A murder trial that threatens to obliterate Andy’s family.
It is the ultimate test for any parent: How far would you go to protect your child? It is a test of devotion. A test of how well a parent can know a child. For Andy Barber, a man with an iron will and a dark secret, it is a test of guilt and innocence in the deepest sense.
How far would you go?

Birth of an Assassin by Rik Stone @stone_rik

Chapter 5

For three weeks, Jez watched his peers leave for the front while his presence wasn’t even acknowledged by the sergeant. He had to face up to him, and find out why.

“Excuse me, Sergeant Sharansky.”

“Yes, private, come in.”

He bent as he pushed through the flaps and into the tent. “If I may, Sergeant, I’ll get straight to the point.” Sharansky sat back and nodded. “You seem to be of an opinion that I wouldn’t be of much use in the field. I’ve trained KooKooEh ever since I got here and…”

“And?” the sergeant broke in.

He stood further to attention. “Sergeant, I know this war is bitter and casualties high. I just don’t understand why my skills are not put to better use.”

“Oh – a tantrum. The boy isn’t getting his way.”

Rankled, Jez discarded caution. “It’s not like that, Sergeant, no, I…”

“All right… all right,” the sergeant conceded, and lifted a hand to silence him. “We’ve received information of a rooftop party for a group of significant conservative officers. I’ve looked at your records. Seems you can shoot, but you’ve never killed. Do you think you can go the distance?”

Had Sharansky waited for him to make this approach?

“Yes, Sergeant, you’re right, I haven’t killed, but there has to be a first time for everyone. I’m ready, it won’t be a problem.”

“It’d better not be. Get your combat gear together and make sure you’re ready to travel at first light. Don’t worry about weapons, I’ll sort them out.”

Night still contested with day as Jez emerged. The KKE boy sat behind the wheel with Sergeant Sharansky next to him. It was so early that his mind hadn’t kicked in properly, or was it that he hadn’t clipped his belt buckle properly? Whichever, he got in a tangle and fell.

“Don’t worry,” the sergeant said, “you’re not late.” He turned to the driver. “Let’s go.”

Friendly enough, but Jez could’ve sworn he’d sniggered.

Then it got worse. The accelerator hit the metal before Jez had sat down, and he crashed over into the rear seat. This time the sergeant laughed for all he was worth.

“After the boy drops us, it’ll take him an hour to get to his KooKooEh comrades and let them know we’re on our way,” Sergeant Sharansky said. “We’ll have that hour and another three to get to our position and set up. Oh, one more thing: you’re Jez, I’m Viktor, and we’re without rank. You’re trained, so there’s no need to explain.”

“No, Sergeant, sorry, Viktor, but why the time limit?”

“We’ve arranged for KooKooEh to make a diversionary attack on a military village in the town’s suburbs. When their firepower can be heard we must be in position and ready to open fire.”

They hadn’t driven for long when the jeep left the main road in favor of dirt tracks and paths that wound along low gullies and high mountainsides. But now the boy drove tentatively and made sure the vehicle didn’t kick up dust. Eventually they stopped on a hillside and Jez pulled his rattled body from the jeep. A spattering of houses lay to the west, or at least he guessed they were houses: from that distance they looked no more than an anomaly in the terrain. Viktor took a bag from the jeep and the boy drove off without a word.

“Will there be opposition between here and the town, Viktor?”

“There’d better not be, or the mission is over. Until we’re ready to hit, low profile is the name of the game.”

They crept silently over sterile ground, and the nearer they got the more patrols they found to skirt around. When necessary they bellied out, slung the bag over the back of whoever’s turn it was to be mule, and crawled. When they reached the halfway mark, Jez was up on his feet and trotting crouched with the bag over his shoulder.

“You want me to take a turn with that bag?”

“No, it’s not a problem.”

The lifetime of physical training had paid dividends and his body thrived on the workout. But his mind was full of the task ahead: he would kill; that was why he’d trained so hard. It was a necessary step in his military evolution. Even so, sweat popped on his face – and it wasn’t through physical exertion.

They arrived on the town’s outskirts and nestled into a niche at the base of a hill. Viktor took two AK-47 submachine guns from the bag: a recently developed weapon created by a young unknown called Kalashnikov. Jez had trained with the rifle and liked its responses – accurate to 800 meters and still a kill shot at 1,500 meters. Viktor laid the guns side by side and dipped back into the bag. He took out enough ammunition to fill the magazines twice over.

“Load up, Jez. Then take off your trousers and shirt, and fasten the ammunition belt with the spare bullets in front of you.”

Jez relaxed and grinned. “We’re going to look a bit obvious if we walk into town like this.”

Viktor sighed. “We’re not quite finished,” he said. “Sling the gun over your back.”

Jez obeyed, and as Viktor pulled out sandals and a couple of hooded kaftans, the fog cleared.

“Get into these,” he said. “Reports say there are Arabs in the town, so we should go unnoticed.”

“And if we don’t?”

“Well, I don’t think the conservatives will lose any sleep over killing us slowly.”

“Right, Viktor.”

Reality sobered his thoughts – death was feasible.

“Noticing the AK-47 won’t be a problem as long as you don’t bend to pick anything up in town,” Viktor continued.

Jez held out the kaftan like a girl in a dress shop and nodded. “I could pass as an Arab without the kaftan. And you’re… well weathered.”

He watched Viktor pull the kaftan over his head. His muscular frame could have been a problem, but in the loose-fit garment he just looked fat. Jez grinned.


“Nothing, Viktor, just thinking.”

They moved into side alleys of what Jez presumed was a typical mountain town: houses with dark adobe sun-dried brickwork, mainly flat-roofed but some slanted and tiled. Orange trees bore bitter fruit that had been left to over-ripen and wither. Their skins had already bleached to a pale shade of yellow, and the branches they hung from stretched over sandstone walls to reach for the shade of olive trees, whose aged trunks had bloated to more than a meter in width. These olives lined the street, proudly adorning the sidewalks. Their long, heavy branches provided shade for the passersby, while the white paint around the trunks gave guidance to night traffic.

On a main street, Jez watched donkeys pull rickety carts piled with firewood. Rusted old cars belched blue-black smoke so thick that it rasped the throat. An uncovered army truck chugged by, full of soldiers who looked over-heated as they leaned wearily on their rifles. Vehicles had parked on either side of the road, which slowed the traffic. A black chauffeur-driven convertible stopped just ahead with a military officer sat in the back seat, tapping a swagger stick on his forearm and staring straight ahead. His pompous expression raised the hackles on Jez’s neck. The blonde woman sitting next to him was just the opposite: she craned her neck in every direction and showed interest in all she looked at.

They turned off into a side alley and Jez was glad to leave the mayhem behind; but within a couple of meters he found himself pressed against a wall to let a heavily-laden donkey pass. The large wooden cases that flanked the animal looked over-burdening, but it never faltered. A woman led the beast from the front and stared directly at Jez. Her tanned and shrunken face seemed to admonish him, but then he realized she wasn’t looking at him, but through him.

After several alleyways into town they came to an open plaza where Arab vendors manned vegetable stalls. On the opposite side of the square a number of conservative soldiers hung around, smoking, talking.

“Take my hand, Jez,” Viktor ordered.


“Just do it,” he said with resignation.

Jez took the sergeant’s hand and they walked diagonally across the square. Viktor clung to him and chatted in Greek – or whatever language it was; it all sounded Greek to Jez. They bumped and pushed their way through a throng of people who eagerly cleared their goods in readiness for an evening of freedom.

Halfway across the plaza, anxiety tingled over Jez’s skin as he brushed against a man. Perfumed and smartly dressed, he looked how a key official might. The stock of Jez’s AK had clipped the man’s arm, not hard, but enough for him to reach up and rub it. With face contorted, he stared at Jez in puzzlement, probably wondering how someone so much smaller than him could cause such pain with a minor bump.

Jez brought his hands together and bowed remorsefully. “I’m sorry, sir,” he said, using the only Arabic he knew.

“Yes, sir,” Viktor added, “I’m sorry too. This is an idiot boy and I don’t know why I keep him.”

By the look on the man’s face, he hadn’t understood a word. Jez guessed that’s what Viktor thought too, which would be why he turned on Jez, swiped at his head, and pushed him across the square. He continued with the angry charade until they got nearer to the soldiers, he quieted, took Jez’s hand and returned to jabbering. They cleared the square and the handholding abruptly ended.

“That’s a relief,” Jez said. “I like you well enough, but not in that way.”

Viktor laughed warmly. “It’s not unusual for male Arab friends to hold hands. It doesn’t mean the same with them, and we need to blend in as much as possible.”

“Whatever you say.”

The sergeant shook his head and laughed as he took another swipe at Jez. His directions brought them to their first destination: a red sandstone house with off-white steps that led to a door on the first floor.

“Isn’t there someone here to meet us? You can’t just go in without knocking,” Jez said, as Viktor reached the top step and grabbed the door handle.

“Don’t worry, we have all the information we need, enough to get the job done. That way if we’re caught we can’t let anybody down.”

“What if the house is found after we’re done? Won’t that lead to our informant?”

“You ask too many questions. Me, I just get on with what I’m given. Truth is, I don’t know what cover has been set up. I only know what we have to do and how we have to do it.”

The windows were small, but inside was bright because a French door was positioned to catch sunbeams that reverberated on the stark white walls. A ladder to a trapdoor stood against a teak-colored ceiling beam. Jez slipped the kaftan off over his head and removed the rifle. “Oh,” he groaned, and stretched and arched his body. “I’m glad to get rid of that. When I bumped into that man, the gun moved and the stock was stuck between my shoulders.”

“Ah, such a sensitive little button,” Viktor baited.

Jez nearly rose to defend his words until he realized he was being sent up. They sat in underwear, tucking into the Feta cheese and bread that had been left out on the table.

“Right, Jez,” Viktor said, and wiped his mouth with the back of his wrist. “We have a good hour before the fireworks begin. According to my information there are a good few rooftops to cross before reaching our position and it’ll be easier to get there while it’s light, so we should make a start right away.”

“That’s not a problem, but do we go in under-shorts and vest? Not a very dignified way to die if we’re caught.”

“Don’t worry about that, there’s no such thing as dignified dying – just dying.”

Maybe, but Jez would prefer it if he had a bit more on than a pair of underpants.

Birth of an Assassin

Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.

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Genre - Thriller, Crime, Suspense

Rating – R

More details about the author

Connect with Rik Stone on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://rik-stone.simdif.com

#Bargain Sand Dollar: A Story of Undying Love by Sebastian Cole @sebastiancole3

Beverly Hills Book Award winner, USA Best Book Award finalist, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award bronze winner, International Book Award finalist, ForeWord Firsts debut literary competition finalist.
The story opens with Noah Hartman, eighty years old, lying on his deathbed recounting his life of love and loss to Josh, a compassionate orderly at the hospital. As Noah’s loved ones arrive one by one, they listen in on his story, and we’re transported back in time to Noah’s younger years.
Though outwardly seeming to have it all, Noah, now thirty-five, is actually an empty, lost, and broken man running on automatic pilot. He has no true identity due to having allowed his powerful, wealthy parents to manipulate, control, and brainwash him from a young age. With the threat of disinheritance and withholding love and approval if he doesn’t comply with the plan they have for his life, Noah is lured in by the reward of great wealth and the illusion of running the family business empire some day.
Enter Robin, twenty-five years old, who — in direct contrast to Noah — is a vivacious, free spirit. Full of life and always living in the moment, Robin’s love saves Noah by inspiring him to stand up to his parents and live his own life at all costs, reclaiming his true self.
They get married, and while snorkeling in the Caribbean, the captain of the boat warns them not to disturb anything in the sea. Ignoring the exhortation, Noah dives down and snags a sand dollar from the ocean floor, whereupon it explodes in his hand. With the fragile sand dollar taking on new significance, Robin inexplicably leaves Noah shortly after returning from their honeymoon. Like a passing breeze, she disappears out of his life without a trace, seemingly forever.
Years pass, and Noah still can’t get Robin out of his mind and out of his heart. After all, the one he loved the most would forever be the one who got away. That’s when he finds out about her hidden secret, the underlying condition responsible for her leaving. Noah has no choice but to move on with his life without her, meeting Sarah at the premiere of SAND DOLLAR, the movie he wrote about his time with Robin.
Years later, it’s Noah and Sarah’s wedding day, and Robin discovers a clue that Noah had surreptitiously inserted into the movie, inspiring her to race to the wedding to try to stop it. With the wedding in shambles, the scene jumps back to present day, with both Robin and Sarah placed in Noah’s hospital room. But which one did he choose?
As Noah wraps up his story, he discovers a far greater truth about the past, present, and future. Things are definitely not as they appear as the pieces of a shattered love are put back together in the remarkable final chapter of Noah’s life.
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Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – PG 13
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Connect with Sebastian Cole on Facebook & Twitter

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Indiestructible: Inspiring Stories from the Publishing Jungle @MsBessieBell

Tackling the Time Factor

by Jessica Bell

The biggest problem I had with deciding to go indie was the time factor.

With a stressful full-time job as a project manager for the Academic Research & Development department at Education First, it was difficult for me to see how I could possibly work, write, blog, edit, publish, market, run a literary journal, direct a writer’s retreat, and live my life all at once. It doesn’t help that I’m a bit of a stickler. I like to get everything done myself because I have a hard time waiting on others to do things I know I can get done more quickly and efficiently. I outsource if I really have to, but I do enjoy doing the work, such as designing covers, learning new skills and navigating social media. So when I say, DIY, I really mean DIY. Where on Earth, I wondered, would I find the time to be an editor for an educational publisher and literary magazine, an author, a typesetter, a designer, and a marketer? And what about walking the dog? Making dinner? Sleeping? (Forget the laundry. I have months of unfolded washed clothes in a heap on the couch that will soon need to go straight back into the machine from the dog rubbing herself all over them.)

The time factor is a logical fear. But once I finally made the decision to do this on my own, I realized that it wasn’t as daunting as it seemed. Do you know how much more you actually get done when you think something is impossible?

I don’t want to tell you how to schedule your day, but I’m going to give you a run down on how to approach this time management malarkey mentally. The key for me is not to focus on one thing all day. When you do this, you burn out. Your brain starts to lag from the monotony of the same information. You need to mix it up. If you mix it up, you get more done, because your mind is consistently stimulated with fresh information.

Let’s start with the actual writing of your books. Because this is what it all boils down to, yes? But first, I have to say, everyone is different. Everyone writes at different speeds, deals with stress in different ways, has different expectations of themselves. So you need to figure out what you want and works for you.

1. Stop thinking about what other people will think of your work. And write honestly. The first version of my debut novel was written for an audience. It was rejected again and again—for five years. And then, I found a small press who saw something in me and made an effort to get to know me. (Unfortunately that publisher liquidated only six months after its release, but that’s another story which you can read about here.) The publisher said my book was good, but that it felt like she was watching the characters through a window. She said: “Go deeper.” So I dug deeper and dragged the truth from my heart and soul. A truth I was afraid to admit was there. But it resulted in an honest book—a book I didn’t know I had in me. And one I hope women will be able to relate to. It’s glory-less, but real. And real steals hearts. What does this have to do with time management you ask? A lot. When you believe in your work, when you love your work, the words get written faster.

2. Focus on one paragraph at a time. I will never forget Anne Lamott’s advice from Bird by Bird (most accessible and nonsense-less book on writing I’ve ever read): write what you can see through a one-inch frame.

The reason I say this, is because knowing how much you have to revise can sometimes be daunting and overwhelming, and you might try to get through as much as possible and forget to focus your attention on the quality of your work. If you make each paragraph the best it can be before you move on, you won’t have to do any major rewrites (unless there’s a snag in your plot that you’ve overlooked and it’s related to a pertinent turning point). I’m talking revision here, not first draft.

3. Divide your writing time into short bursts. I find that if I give myself only one hour to write every morning before work, sometimes even shorter periods of time (especially when I accidentally sleep in), I’m forced to come up with things I wouldn’t normally think of.

The brain works in mysterious ways when it’s under pressure, and sometimes a little self-inflicted pressure can push you to great heights. Can you believe I wrote the first draft of The Book over a three-day long weekend? I did this because I experimented with the self-inflicted pressure idea. It worked. But be careful not to expect too much from yourself. There is nothing worse than becoming unmotivated due to not reaching personal goals. Which brings me to my fourth point ...

4. To start with, set your goals low. Set goals you know for a fact you can reach. If you set them too high, and continuously fail to meet them, you are going to feel really bad about yourself. This may result in neglecting your goals altogether. I know this from personal experience. If you later realize that you are meeting your goals with ease, gradually make them more challenging. But I strongly urge you to start small. It’s better for you, psychologically, to meet easy goals, than to struggle meeting difficult goals. Not achieving goals is a major hazard for self-esteem, motivation, and creativity.

So what about the rest?

Let’s see. These are the things I continuously have on the go that are not part of my day job or writing books, and I still find time to walk the dog and make dinner (sorry, the washing is still on the couch):

—Vine Leaves Literary Journal (reading submissions, sending rejection/acceptance letters, designing the magazine, promoting the magazine)

Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop (organizing the event and handling finances)

Typesetting, designing, and marketing my books (which includes, what seems, a never-ending thread of guest posts and interviews)

Blogging (including keeping up to speed with my weekly guest feature, The Artist Unleashed)

Maintaining my online presence (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.)

I do all this stuff on top of the day job. On top of my writing. Because I do it all in scheduled, short bursts. I get up early to make sure I have one hour to write and one hour to do something else from the list above. I pick and choose depending on priority. During my lunch break, I blog and spend about half an hour to an hour (depends on how long I can take from work) on social media. After work, I walk the dog, make dinner, maybe go to yoga. Once that’s done, I’ll spend another hour or so doing something else from the list above. Then I have a shower, relax in front of the TV, or do something else away from the computer before I go to bed. Then in bed, I’ll read a chapter or two of the book on my bedside table. Reading to me is relaxing and not a chore.

So what have I accomplished in this average day of mine?

Here’s an example:

My job (at least 7 hours worth)

500-1000 words on my WIP

I read 30 Vine Leaves submissions and sent a few responses, maybe even set up a classified ad on NewPages.com.

I wrote/scheduled a blog post, commented on other blogs.

I connected with everyone I wanted to online. I may have worked on my latest book cover for a bit.

I made dinner.

I walked the dog.

I relaxed.

Look ... I’ll deal with those clothes tomorrow, okay?

I know people with kids who have just as much, and more, on their plate, and they’re still finding the time to self-publish. You can too.

My point is, it can all be done. And it doesn’t have to freak you out, or overwhelm you. Just pace yourself. And if you don’t have a full-time job like me, imagine how much more you can get done.

Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.

Nothing is impossible if you truly want it.

Nothing is impossible. Full stop.


If Jessica Bell could choose only one creative mentor, she’d give the role to Euterpe, the Greek muse of music and lyrics. This is not only because she currently resides in Athens, Greece, but because of her life as a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, whose literary inspiration often stems from songs she’s written.

In addition to her novels, poetry collections, (one of which was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2012), and her Writing in a Nutshell series, she has published a variety of works in online and print literary journals and anthologies, including Australia’s Cordite Review, and the anthologies 100 STORIES FOR QUEENSLAND and FROM STAGE DOOR SHADOWS, both released through Australia’s, eMergent Publishing.

Jessica is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and annually runs the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

Keep an eye out for her forthcoming novel, BITTER LIKE ORANGE PEEL, slated for release, November 1, 2013.


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Genre –  Non-fiction

Rating – G

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Connect with Jessica Bell on FacebookTwitter

Blog http://thealliterativeallomorph.blogspot.com/

Gringa – A Love Story (Complete Series books 1-4) by Eve Rabi @EveRabi1

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

The US.

How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?

I use  a typewriter, like all writers do.

Don’t they?

Where do you get support from? Do you have friends in the industry?

I have no friends in the industry, alas.

How much sleep do you need to be your best?

I’m a eight hours girl, but I rarely get that amount.


This is the complete Gringa Series, books 1-4 being offered at a discounted price.


I was twenty-one, a sassy college student who took crap from no one. While holidaying in Mexico, I was accosted by Diablo and shot, because the motherfucker mistook me for a spy.

I survived, only to encounter him again months later. How’s that for luck?
Furious and sick of all that I’d been through because of him, I slapped him, told him to go fuck himself and braced myself for the bullet. He could shoot me – I no longer cared.
But, to my surprise, the fucker became fascinated with me and blackmailed me into becoming his woman. He’d slay the entire village that sheltered me, if I rejected his proposal.
He was Kong, hairy, tattooed from fingertips to face, with scary ass piercings, blood-shot snake eyes, a ruthless killer and above all, he was my murderer – how could anyone expect me to say yes?
To save the village I had to.
He took me by force, terrorized me into submission and made me his. To make matters worse, I had to put up with his ruthless, backstabbing family who hated me and wanted to kill me.
I despised the bastard and I told him that. Spark flew. Fists too.
When the FBI came on the scene and secretly recruited me to help put Diablo behind bars, I was thrilled. I wanted them to throw his ass behind bars, then torment him for the rest of his life like he was doing to me. I was willing to do whatever it took to get him there.
But, the more I rejected Diablo, the more he wanted me.
At times he wanted to kill me because of my insolence, but other times he just wanted me to love him.
I was his Gringa and in an attempt to get my love, he began to change for me. Drastic changes that made me laugh at him at first, then made me curious and even intrigued me.
After all, I was an ignored child and as an adult, nobody gave a rat’s ass about me. Here was a man who actually wanted me and was willing to do whatever it took to get me – how the hell could I not be flattered?
As the days went by, I found myself drawn to him and I began seeing him differently. When I found out about his past, everything changed.
I now wanted to protect my murderer, my tormentor, The Devil of Mexico from the FBI and I was prepared to lie to the Feds, if it meant saving him from them.
I was even prepared to go to jail for him.
And I did.
My days in Mexico were filled with violence, hate, lust and sorrow.
It was also filled with laughter, love and passion and most importantly, it taught me that love conquers all.

Gringa – a modern–day, love story that will have you laughing, crying and wanting more!

WARNING: This book contains sexual violence, sex scenes, graphic language, drug references, violence and is suitable for mature readers


“A crude rendition of Beauty and the beast”

“IMO, It is one of the best romance books ive read in some time. I read it all in one sitting. I couldnt peel my eyes away even for a minute. The story had it all from action to romance.”

“Some scenes had me giggling out loud, but there was one scene that had me laughing out loud for a couple minutes.”

“This book is not for the faint of heart. It’s horrible, dirty, raw, passionate, hilarious, sweet, sad, addictive, and so much more.”

‘One thing that I like from this author now that I have read all her books is that she takes time to develop her characters as well as develop the romance. There is no zero to 60 in 3 seconds here. Her characters are flawed and multi-dimentional. They also experience growth throughout the book. There are plenty of twists and turns in ths book to keep you guessing.’

“A college student, an alpha male. Nuff said. The author has woven such intricate characters in this tale and I will be hard pressed to find another book which was so well rounded and beautifully written.”

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Genre – Fiction

Rating – PG 13

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Blog http://everabi.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Breathing for Two by Wolf Pascoe @WolfPascoe

IN the freshman year of my anesthesia residency, I was given a lesson in breathing by a patient whom I’ll call Otto. Anesthesia residencies come replete with breathing lessons, but Otto was also teaching humility that day, a subject absent from the formal anesthesia curriculum.
A doctor gets humility not from curricula but from his patients. I acquired a truckload of humility the day I met Otto, and the truck has only gotten larger since.
Otto was undergoing a cystoscopy, a look inside the bladder performed by passing a thin viewing scope through the urethra. There is no incision in such a procedure.
Generally, you don’t need anything fancy to support a patient’s breathing while giving anesthesia during a cystoscopy. As the patient passes from wakefulness into unconsciousness you can let him continue to breathe for himself.
In Otto’s case, I strapped a rubber anesthesia mask over his mouth and nose to make an airtight seal against his skin, and delivered through the mask an appropriate combination of oxygen and anesthetic gas. In principle, what I did was essentially what the Boston dentist, William Thomas Green Morton, had done during the first public demonstration of ether anesthesia in 1846.
The modern anesthesia face mask is a hollow cone of rubber or plastic. It’s like the oxygen mask that drops down from above a passenger’s head on an airplane, though it’s more substantially built. The base is malleable and cushioned by a ring of air, a sort of inner tube. The mask is shaped to fit around the nose and mouth; with a bit of pressure, it seals against the skin. The top of the mask connects to a source of anesthetic vapor and oxygen.
Readers of a certain age may remember the TV series, Marcus Welby, M.D., which began each week with Dr. Welby lowering a black anesthesia mask down over the camera lens. In those days, apparently, the family doctor did everything.
The anesthesia machine—the “cascade of glass columns, porcelain knobs and metal conduits” I described previously—is the gas delivery system. The machine connects to an oxygen tank and directs the flow of oxygen from the tank through a vaporizer where the oxygen mixes with anesthesia gas. The mixture passes out of the machine through plastic tubing (“anesthesia hose”) that connects to the face mask.
The patient breathes the mixture.
Gas leaving the anesthesia machine actually flows through the anesthesia tubing in a circle—in fact it’s called the circle system. One limb of the circle travels from the machine to the anesthesia mask, where the patient inhales it. The other limb, carrying exhaled gas, travels from the mask back to the machine, where excess carbon dioxide from the patient is filtered out. The filtered gas is mixed with fresh gas and travels back to the patient.
The same gases, minus the carbon dioxide, keep going round and round. The system is airtight, except for a pop-off valve that relieves excess pressure.
Otto was a large man with a thickly muscled neck, but by extending his head I could keep his airway clear, allowing him to continue breathing while the urologist worked. Instead of using an anesthesia mask to deliver my mix of gases, I could have assured Otto’s airway by using an endotracheal tube. This is a long breathing tube (about a centimeter in diameter) inserted through the mouth all the way into the trachea.
But getting an endotracheal tube in isn’t always easy, and it’s usually not necessary during a cystoscopy. Most often an anesthesia mask will do.
One side effect of anesthesia is the loss of normal muscle tone. This happened to Otto. A few minutes into the case, his flaccid tongue fell back in his throat. His diaphragm continued to contract, but air couldn’t get through to the lungs—his airway was obstructed. Otto was, of course, completely unconscious at this point.
Everyone loses some muscle tone during sleep—this is the cause of snoring, and of the more serious condition of sleep apnea. But the loss of tone is even greater under anesthesia, and the anesthetized patient cannot rouse herself to find a better breathing position.
I managed the problem by putting a short plastic tube called an airway into Otto’s mouth. The airway depressed the tongue and cleared a passage for air. It wasn’t as good as an endotracheal tube, which would have extended all the way into Otto’s trachea, but it seemed to do the trick.
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Genre – Non-fiction / Memoir
Rating – G
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Author Interview – Ramz Artso @RamzArtso

Image of Ramzan Artsikaev

What movie do you love to watch?

I absolutely love watching Forrest Gump,  Godzilla and Back to the Future.

How do you feel about social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter? Are they a good thing?

I’m really thankful for Facebook and Twitter. They help people connect and share news.

If you could do any job in the world, what would you do?

I’d become an astronaut.

What are you most passionate about? What gets you fired up?

I love writing. It’s probably my only passion.

What makes you angry?

It’s probably impossible to make me angry. But bullies, unfairness and injustice frustrate me. I also hate it when people can help others, but don’t.


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/

Monday, November 25, 2013

#AmReading - A Shadow in the Flames by Michael G. Munz @TheWriteMunz

A Shadow in the Flames by Michael G. Munz


Northgate is in turmoil. Decaying, violent and corrupt, it is a common enough city in the mid twenty-first century, yet discoveries beneath the Moon's surface have marked it with their first distant echoes.
Into Northgate has come Michael Flynn. Jobless and down to his last few dollars, Michael still dreams of making a positive difference of his own. Yet he has no family, no friends save for the freelancer known only as Diomedes, and tonight the apartment they share will burn to the ground.
When Diomedes becomes his mentor in a search for the arsonist responsible, Michael will get his chance to realize those dreams. But he must face dangers far more personal than fire if he is to succeed, for like a shadow in the flames, neither arsonist nor mentor may be what they appear.
And the ones who search the Moon will be watching.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

#AmReading - Surface Tension by Christine Kling @christinekling

Surface Tension by Christine Kling


Years ago Seychelle Sullivan had the chance to save a person’s life. But on that summer night in Florida, lost in a world of teenage resentment and loneliness, Seychelle was not able to feel any pain but her own. Today Seychelle captains her father’s forty-six-foot salvage boat out of Fort Lauderdale’s New River. But she’s never escaped that one moment when she could have made a difference and didn’t.
On a steamy Florida morning Seychelle is answering a Mayday call launched from the five-million-dollar Broward yacht called Top Ten. Racing her fiercest competitor for salvage rights, Seychelle has a personal stake in this rescue: Her former lover, Neal Garrett, is the yacht’s hired skipper. But being the first to reach Top Ten leads to a bloody payday. A beautiful woman has been stabbed to death onboard. And Garrett is nowhere to be found.
While the police treat her as the prime suspect, Seychelle begins to unravel a tangled plot centered on a strip club where “all the girls are tens on top.” Seychelle is connecting human predators with innocent victims, and a mystery on land with a mystery buried deep beneath the sea. Now, to find out what really happened to Neal Garrett, Seychelle must retrace his last steps, through two murders and a horrific crime wave, to a final confrontation with someone who may want to kill her . . . or be her salvation.

The Howling Heart by April Bostic

* * * *

Three days after my father’s funeral, I landed at the airport in Denver. I rented a Jeep Wrangler, because I needed a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get up the mountain. The July weather was mild, so I wore khaki shorts, a plain white tee, and beige Vans sneakers.

One of the odd things about finding our cabin was you had to find the nearby town first. I remembered we got lost during our vacation, which caused an argument between my parents. Finding the road that led to the town was tricky, because there was only one accessible by vehicle, and there was no road sign. My father knew how to get there, because the person who sold him the cabin gave him a landmark. Luckily, he passed that information onto me during one of our conversations. Once you found the road, the town was so small that if you blinked, you’d drive right by it. When my mother said it was remote, she wasn’t being facetious.

I drove on the interstate for over an hour before I realized I missed my turn. I had to find a tree shaped like a wishbone—it was struck by lightning — but all the trees looked alike to me. It took another half-hour for me to turn around and make another attempt.

I found my landmark, but a tangle of fallen branches blocked the entrance. My hands gripped the steering wheel. I knew I was in for a bumpy ride. I floored the accelerator, and the Jeep broke through the roadblock. The road was narrow, and the terrain was rough. Whoever constructed it didn’t want people to travel on it. I screamed when tree branches appeared out of nowhere and banged against the windshield. The forest surrounded me on both sides, and I wondered if I’d ever reach the town.


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Genre – Paranormal Romance

Rating – Adult

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Website http://www.aprilbostic.com/

Friday, November 22, 2013

Joyfully Yours by Amy Lamont @Amy_Lamont

Out in the parking lot, Faith braced herself against the cold November chill, pulling her black pea coat tight around her body. A few yards away, her Good Samaritan leaned against a car, talking on his phone.

There was something bizarre about a priest talking on a cell phone. Like the time she’d driven through Pennsylvania and snapped a picture of an Amish woman filling the gas tank of a ginormous SUV. In this case, she decided to refrain from taking advantage of the photo op. She’d already ogled the guy. Taking a picture might elevate her to stalker status. She was pretty sure nothing good could come from stalking a priest.

He hung up the phone before she had a chance to escape the parking lot and her shoulders sagged. She might not want to be accused of stalking, but she should go give him a real thank you for helping her out. He had saved her from the unruly masses in Carlucci’s Market.

“Excuse me,” she called before he could get into his car, a sensible Ford. “I wanted to thank you again. I think you may have saved my life back there.” She jerked a thumb over her shoulder in the direction of the store.

“My pleasure.”

“Is there somewhere I can send the money? I thought I had a little more cash in my wallet….”

He waved her offer away. “Don’t worry about it. Happens to all of us.”

Faith bit her bottom lip, trying to imagine the handsome, clean-cut man in front of her digging in his pockets for spare change.

As if he could read her mind, he nodded. “Even me. Once I was late for an appointment and didn’t have money for the parking meter. I asked a lady passing by if she had any change. I even told her I was a priest. She hit me with her purse and told me I should be ashamed of myself for impersonating a man of the cloth.”

Faith laughed at the picture he painted. His eyes dipped down for an instant and her laughter cut off on a choking wheeze.

Yikes. Was it her imagination or had the priest just checked her out? She hopped backwards a step and stuttered out another quick thanks before scurrying away. Must be her imagination. Or maybe he was one of those pervy priests.

As she made the trek to the train platform, half her brain dwelled with disgust on the idea of him checking her out. The other half was happy she’d taken the extra few minutes to do her hair and put on some makeup this morning.

Joyfully Yours

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Genre - Contemporary Holiday Romance

Rating – PG

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Website http://amylamont.com

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Onio by Linell Jeppsen @nelj8

Chapter 4

For four days, Mel drifted in and out of consciousness. When she was able to swim up from the tendrils of death that held her, she dreamed vivid and horrifying dreams.

Once, she sat up with a start and saw a scene from Dante’s Inferno. She saw a huge hairy man being flogged by a branchless tree trunk. The tree was very large and the branches on it had been cut crudely so that long splinters sprouted from its surface like jagged teeth. The man was held in place by long ropes of vine that were hung from stalactites so that his feet barely touched the floor. He was screaming while others of his kind either cheered in triumph or wept with sympathy.

Another time Mel awoke in a hospital room with nurses all around her. She felt like she was in familiar territory, but wondered how she had changed places with her mother. Her mom held her wrist in one large hand and peered into her eyes with concern.

“Mama…,” she croaked, and drew back in alarm when her mother’s face disappeared. Now she was surrounded by monsters. Their giant hairy faces leered down at her. Their mouths sang an eerie chorus Mel couldn’t hear, but understood. The hospital room dissolved into a small cave and her crisp, white sheets were replaced by a scruffy fur blanket. She shrugged it off, screaming, before succumbing to the healing darkness once again.

Finally Mel awoke to voices. She felt a little better and her head no longer felt like it might explode. She looked over to the far side of the cave and saw Onio being tended to by the old sasquatch female. He looked pale and shaken. The old one, whose name was Rain, rubbed some sort of ointment on Onio’s back. Although their lips didn’t move, they were talking. Mel closed her eyes and listened.

“Onio, what he did was just,” she murmured.

“Just!” Onio snarled. “The test is designed to punish the worst criminals…murderers, and rapines! What I did was not even a crime! Why did he bring his grandson, who would be king, to his knees?”

Mel peeked at the two sasquatches through her eyelashes. She saw that Onio’s head was bowed and that his shoulders heaved with sobs. Rain stood some distance away and wiped her hands clean with a rag. She regarded her grandson with an eyebrow raised in equal parts exasperation and love.

She brought Onio a mug of something to drink and Mel’s throat ached with thirst. She watched as he set the mug down, staring at the floor in anger. Rain sat next to him on the shelf of rock that served as a bed.

“Onio, what you did was akin to murder. I know you know this, because I have taught you these things myself!” She placed a hand on the male’s thigh. “I will teach it again, Grandson,” she continued. “Maybe this time you will listen and truly understand.”

Rain slapped the young sasquatch sharply and stood up. Onio hunched his shoulders at the reprimand, glaring at his own toes.

“The small humans have small brains, Grandson. Also, their brains work differently than ours. We are intuitive, telepathic and sensitive to the ways of nature and the planet around us. They are none of these things, but they are creatures of intellect. Look at the marvelous machines they construct, the technology they have invented! In many ways their workings are like magic to us. Just as, I think, our ways are magical to them.” Rain sighed.

“That is why we hide from them, Onio. They are a covetous race, and would take from us, by any means necessary, that which they desire. For many generations the humans have tried to unlock the mysteries of our brains. They want to know how to use the soul song, and would steal it from us if they could. Many times they have tried…this you know, first-hand!”

Tears were dripping out of Onio’s eyes and falling to the floor. He murmured, “I am sorry, Grandmother. I wasn’t thinking properly.”

Mel saw the old female smile as she fussed with some things in a bag, then walked over to cook something on a fire set in the middle of the floor.

“Now, finally, First Son admits to not thinking before acting.” Although the sasquatches lips didn’t move, Mel could hear the sarcasm dripping from Rain’s voice, as the smell of meat cooking filled the air.

“Onio, listen and hear my words.” Rain’s voice was urgent. “There are as many reasons as birds in the sky why we do not co-mingle with the little humans. Most importantly, they will hunt us down and kill us for the gifts we possess. They would experiment on us and dissect our brains, and all for nothing! Even if they knew how to extract our abilities, their brains do not have the means, or the capacity, for soul song. It is called neural pathways…or some such. I have forgotten the exact words.” Now she glared at her grandson again. “We think that this little human will survive what you did to her, Onio.”

Mel slammed her eyes shut as she saw the big male glance her way. Guilt was written all over his face.

“You were lucky, I think, that this creature survived at all. Your gift opened pathways in her brain…neural connections most humans are not equipped to deal with, or understand. We believe that the only reason the girl hasn’t died is because her ear canals are damaged. Our gifts are sense, rather than thought, oriented. Hearing is a sense, so her brain was able to withstand the new impulses. She is very ill, though, and will be frail for a long while to come. She may not survive the change…someday her brain might break from the strain you yourself put on it!”

Mel saw Onio put his hands over his face and shudder. “Oh Grandmother,” he moaned. “Truly, I did not think to kill this little human…I did not think at all!”

Rain nodded, filled a wooden bowl with meat, and handed it to him. She glanced over at Mel and sat down next to Onio again.

“You are young yet, Onio, and perhaps foolish, but you will be a fine leader someday. To lead well, though, you must learn to listen to the world around you. Drak, your uncle, is also a fine man, but he suffers from jealousy. He never thought that you would be declared king after Bouldar is gone…not with the small human blood that flows in your veins. That he himself told you this only serves to prove that he hasn’t the wisdom to lead the tribe.”

She chuckled. “There is a thing the small humans call irony. It took me many, many years of study to understand this concept, but I find it ironic that the very thing Drak used to wound you with actually ensures your ascension to the seat of leadership.”

She stood again and moved around behind Onio to apply more salve to his wounded back. “My husband believes that the human soldiers are renewing their efforts to find us, and hunt us down. He believes that these soldiers want to use the soul song as some sort of weapon. They are a warrior species who will use even the most benign gift as a tool for destruction!” The old female apparently forgot to be gentle in her application of the medicine on his wounds. Onio winced with pain.

“He thinks that the tribe needs a leader who can both sympathize with and out-maneuver the humans who want to conquer us. The blood in your veins has made you smarter than the rest of us…especially Drak. You still possess the tribe’s gifts, like telepathy and camouflage, but your intellect will be the thing that can save the tribe from the small humans’ greed.” She gave her grandson’s shoulders a shake, not caring that he cried out in pain.

“That leader will be you, Grandson!” she shouted. “But only if this little human woman survives and you learn to think before you act!”

Rain’s voice was pensive when she spoke again. “Before Bouldar became my husband he was much like you; curious and compelled to seek out the small humans’ company, despite the risks.” She threw her arms up with a growl of rage.

Onio revised (2)

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Genre – Fantasy/Romance

Rating – PG13

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Website http://neljeppsen.weebly.com/

Thursday, November 21, 2013

#Bargain Trans-Human by David Simpson @PostHuman09


PROMOTION: Now you can switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible audiobook. Add the professional narration of Sub-Human (Book 1) for a reduced price of $2.99 after you buy the Kindle book of Sub-Human. Listen to Sub-Human Chapter 3's sample here goo.gl/kdxS8i. Also, Post-Human (Book 2), Trans-Human (Book 3) and Human Plus(Book 4) are all $0.99 each for a LIMITED TIME as well!
And their audiobooks are coming soon!

Age Range: 12 years and up

In this sequel to Post-Human, humanity will be forced to face a future more advanced than it could have imagined if it wants to survive. Nineteen months have passed since the A.I. turned against humanity and was subsequently destroyed. In the meantime, James Keats has turned over the A.I.'s powers to a non-intelligent, easily controlled operating system. He and Thel have left the planet and spent six months vacationing on Venus, which has been newly terraformed without the consent or knowledge of the Governing Council. The A.I. has been deleted, but the message it sent out into the abyss of space in search of a companion has been answered. An alien force dwarfing the Earth is on its way to find out why the A.I. has stopped communicating. Keats and company can only assume its intentions will be hostile when it finds out the truth. Only one thing is for sure: nothing will ever be the same again. Welcome to the Trans-Human era. Welcome to the singularity.

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Genre - Science Fiction

Rating – PG

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#AmReading - The Search for South Pole Santa by JingleBelle Jackson @JingleBelleJ

The Search for South Pole Santa by JingleBelle Jackson


The population alarm has gone off at the North Pole alerting the world that there will soon be too many children for Santa to serve! The search begins for a second Santa, South Pole Santa. Many people apply, but only six are selected to compete - including a teenage girl attending school far away on a remote tropical island. Cassandra Penelope Clausmonetsiamlydelaterra. . . wants the job, despite the odds against her and everything that goes wrong!
Can Sandra's dream come true? Can she become South Pole Santa ? The polar opposite of Santa? And who, or what, is trying so hard to keep her from it?
This holiday family book is full of mayhem, magic, mystery, bad guys, dark caves and a good dose of elves. Not just for the Christmas lovers amongst us, anyone who enjoys a fun adventure where kindness reigns in the end, will enjoy this timely new holiday choice.
Oh, Oh, Oh!

Boundless by Brad Cotton @BradCott0n

Chapter 6

NOT TWENTY MINUTES after leaving the motel, young Ruby fell asleep upon her bag in the back seat. As the BMW crossed the border into Colorado just before lunch, Ruby had still not awoken.

“When did you know?” Ray asked Duncan. He put down his book and looked over to the driver.

“Know what?”

“Did you just decide it one day or did you always think it?”

“This again?”

“Maybe it’s just a feeling,” Ray surmised. “Like people who think that everything happens for a reason. But you don’t think that, do you?”

“I think some things happen for a reason, sure,” Duncan said.


“Why would there be a word for fate if it didn’t exist?”

“There’s a word for unicorns, isn’t there?”

“I think there has to be some kind of plan,” Duncan said. “You can fall off the path or change direction, but you can’t run from who you are.”

“What’re you guys talking about?” a voice said from the back seat.

Ray curled his head around the over-sized headrest.

“Oh, nothing,” he said. “Just something we started a long time ago.”


“No. Not unicorns.”

“It sounds like you’re talking about unicorns.”

“Ray’s been trying to understand how I can believe in God,” Duncan said.

Duncan looked in the rear view mirror to see if he could catch Ruby’s reaction. He couldn’t even see the top of her head. Though awake, Ruby had slouched down even further and curled across the entire back seat. She rested her head on her bag and shut her eyes once more.

“Arguing whether there is or isn’t a God is like arguing whether or not a song is good,” she said. “You can never be right and you can never be wrong.”

“You believe in God?” Ray asked.

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“I’m assuming you don’t?”

“Not for a second.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“The evidence against it is overwhelming.”

“So then what happens to you when you die?” Ruby asked.

“You die,” Ray said. “You’re dead. End. Over. Bye bye.”

“I think I believe in reincarnation,” Ruby said, her eyes still closed. “Haven’t you ever met someone that you feel you’ve met before, or that you know from somewhere else? And what about all those people that just seem so new?”

“Well, if there is such a thing as reincarnation, I’d come back as a cat,” Ray said.

“A cat?” Duncan said. “You hate cats.”

“For the same reasons I’d want to be one.”

“A cat?”

“A housecat, yeah. I’d lie around all day. Someone else would get my food, rub me down, and no one would give a shit if I ever paid any attention to them.”

“Pray on it,” Duncan said.

“Don’t you want to be in heaven?” Ruby asked. “Don’t you want to think that once you die you’ll get to be with the people you love? The people you’ve lost?”

“I think it sounds like a pretty crowded place,” Ray said. “And no, I don’t think I’d want to be anywhere where I had no purpose.”

Duncan shook his head.

“Can we stop?” Ruby asked.

“Yes, please,” Duncan said. “We’ve been talking about it forever and we never get anywhere.”

“No, can we stop. I’m a girl, small bladder.”

“Oh, yeah, sure,” Duncan answered. “I’m hungry, anyway.”

“Yeah, a cat.” Ray said. “That’s the life.” He nodded as he looked out the window at the grass whizzing by.

Duncan pulled off Interstate 70 at the outskirts of Grand Junction, Colorado. He screeched into a gas station and Ruby sprung from the car and scurried to the washroom. Ray got out to stretch his legs; Duncan began refueling.


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Genre – Contemporary Fiction/Literary Fiction

Rating – R

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Website http://www.bradcotton.com/

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Birth of an Assassin by Rik Stone @stone_rik


The next day, after a sleepless night, Jez worried that he was about to be kicked out of the army – maybe after serving a prison term. His life’s dream had ended before it began. He wouldn’t mind, except ever since he’d arrived he’d steeled himself against Nikolas’s verbal abuse, constantly put up with being picked on, and obeyed orders like a toy soldier who’d been wound up and pointed. How could he have been so stupid as to react like that? The trainer was worn out and Jez knew it. He could have walked away, but no…

Now was the day after he’d broken the man’s arm and no one had mentioned it yet; but a new NCO had assembled the squad outside the hut and Jez was standing at attention in line with the others. He knew there was no way out of this one.

“Kornfeld, one step forward at the double,” the man shouted.

Shit, here it comes. He stepped from the line.

The NCO stared at him blankly and then grinned derisively. “Are you sure you’re the only Kornfeld?”

“As far as I know I am, Sergeant.”

He shook his head with a bemused expression. “Right, back into the ranks.”

Several weeks passed without incident, other than that his fascination for Anna grew out of all proportion. The military preparation had finished and he was ordered to return to Lubyanka. He’d got through the first stages, but his heart ached. For some stupid reason Anna had become as important to him as the army itself and he’d probably never see her again.

Birth of an Assassin

Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.

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Genre - Thriller, Crime, Suspense

Rating – R

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Website http://rik-stone.simdif.com

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

In a Milk and Honeyed Land by Richard Abbott @MilkHoneyedLand



Refreshing like rain are my words,

distilling like dew is my speech,

like cloudbursts upon the grassland,

or rainfall upon the young crops.

BARUK CAME OUT OF Danil’s house and set off across the ridge towards home. After completing his childhood and passing through the ceremonies to be counted as a young man of the community, he had deliberately set out to be noticed by Danil and the others of the raiding party. So far he had not succeeded in being really included in that group, and Danil’s own son was too different in age from him to make anything to his advantage out of a potential friendship, but he entertained hopes. Bashur, almost the same height despite their year separation in age, followed him as closely as possible and was clearly attempting to make every available use of the sibling relationship. Today, Baruk had managed to spend time with Danil without his brother. He smiled to himself as he joined the main track down from the high place. He was genuinely fond of Bashur, for all his over-close attachment, and most of the time was happy that he was there with him like a shadow. Though they were not twins, they understood each other’s moods and feelings better than most brothers or friends, even when they disagreed over their thoughts and opinions. Mostly, he appreciated Bashur’s presence nearby. Some days, though, it was good to go on his own.

He heard his name being called, and turned to see Damariel hurrying down towards him from the high place. He waited until he caught up with him.

“Just going home?”

“Yes. Dad let me off some time in the olive field this afternoon. Reckoned we’d done enough for the day or something. So I took the chance to spend a bit of that time with Danil.”

“That went well?”

“Yes. He’s always helpful, whenever I ask he’s happy to talk to me about how the raids are done. I’m learning a lot. There’s not so many of them go regularly, never quite enough for what they want to bring back. So I think I can talk my way into going with them if they think I’m keen. Well, and if I know what I’m doing.”

They walked a bit further in silence together.

“Been up with the seer, then, Damari?”

Damariel nodded.

“And what did you learn today?”

“He’s been teaching me these last months how to read not just our own writing, but the older stuff too. Like they used way back before our time. Actually they still do in the big towns, and if you have to write to the Mitsriy ever.”

Baruk nodded, not especially interested yet in the topic, but before he could speak, Damariel rushed on with enthusiasm.

“Baruk, I never knew before today that a woman from here, from our own town, wrote to the Mitsriy governor once.”

“Oh yes? What did she say?”

“Nothing much, really, just warning him about a big raid between two of the nearby towns. The usual double-dealing and trickery they do in those other places. But she wrote to them, Baruk, and they took notice. She called herself the lady lioness and they thought she was like our queen.”

Baruk laughed.

“They didn’t know much about us, then. Though the lion bit wasn’t far off.”

Damariel joined in the humour.

“No, I suppose not. But they took notice of her all the same. Respected her.”

“She can’t have been from mum’s family or we’d have heard about her years ago. If there was anything like that in her ancestors she’d have told us.”

“That’s true. I don’t know if she was a chief’s wife or the seer at the time, or even just one of the village women who could write. But I saw the copy of what she wrote and have been puzzling over it all morning.”

At that point they both stopped and looked back up the hill. A sudden shouting had started somewhere up near the high place, men’s voices raised in fierce anger. Baruk took a step or two back up the hill, but Damariel stopped him.

“Do you think we ought to?”

“Are you kidding? Whatever it is, I’m not going to miss it.”

They set off again along the ridge, and started running as the shouting began to grow louder. Like them, others were coming out of houses, looking, and starting to gather together up at the heart of the community. At the stones, Ethan the shepherd, his large face red and his large fists clenched, was being held away from Iqnu by three of the other men. Qerith had pulled her kef down over her face and was facing away from them off to one side, leaning on the wall of the seer’s house, her expression completely hidden. The two boys joined the gathering circle of villagers, Baruk pushing through to the front so they could see, and Damariel following. Ethan took a breath and shouted something incoherent at Iqnu; the only words they could make out in the whole tirade were “Isheth” and “while I was away”. Beside him, Baruk heard Damariel gasp.

“What is it, Damari? What’s this about?”

Damariel shook his head, his eyes fixed on Iqnu who was looking around at the ring of villagers, clearly trying to elicit sympathy or help from the assembly. One of the older lads nearby heard the question.

“Ethan says the seer took his woman for himself. While he was away up along the ridge with the flocks. Just before you came he was saying she confessed it all to him when he got back today. Over a year all told they’ve been at it with each other, so he says. Not just once, you know. All while he was away with the flocks. And in her own house, too. Not like it was somewhere else.”

“Is it true?”

“No idea. But Ethan’s all a sweat. Look at him. He’s called the seer both thief and liar, and the seer hasn’t said anything back.”

“Where’s Isheth? What does she say?”

The other shrugged. “Never seen her yet. Maybe she’s got a tale to tell too, but right now she’s not here to tell it.”

Ethan’s parents, Hinnah and Nawar, had arrived. Nawar went over to his son and gripped his arms, waving away the men who had been holding him away from Iqnu. Hinnah went off with Danil’s wife Rivkah towards Isheth’s house. In the sudden quiet they heard Ethan’s voice as he spoke to Nawar. Most of what he said was indistinct, but every so often one word or other would burst out loud. Nawar listened without comment for some time, still keeping hold of his son as though he might burst away at any moment. Qerith moved away from the house to one side and sat on one of the flat stones, her face still covered. Shelomith-Rahmay went and sat with her. Nawar looked very sombre as he turned towards Iqnu, who glanced around the circle again, still trying to gauge whether the mood of the community was for or against him. But before Nawah could speak, Rivkah came running in, across to where Qerith and Shelomith sat, her kef all awry and blood on the sleeve of her smock.

“He’s tried to kill her. Beaten her something terrible. But she’s not yet gone across, not yet. Lady, she needs someone good with healing. Lady, please come and do what you can for her.”

She knelt in front of Qerith, but there was no reply. After a long pause her veiled, hidden head shook once. Shelomith stood up slowly, looking suddenly much older than her years, beckoned to one of the other women to take her place with Qerith, and went off with Rivkah. Someone on the other side of the circle pushed their way through to the front.

“Her brother lives up at Woodlands. Azziy, they call him. Someone should get him. If Ethan’s killed her he’ll want to know about it. The whole family will. It’ll be a matter of honour.”

Nawar thought about it for a long moment, several different emotions playing across his face as he inclined his head reluctantly. But before he could speak, Mahiram’s older voice broke in. “Hear me now, there’s more involved than the honour of two families. It’s a seer’s matter and we need a seer to judge on it now. So yes, send a boy up to Woodlands by all means, but send one up to Giybon as well to get a seer down here to tell us how both Iqnu and Ethan are to be treated. They’ll be here tomorrow. If I’m heard there’ll be no judgement upon anyone’s family before then.”

There was a murmur of acceptance, approval around the circle. Two lads were sent off in different directions up the ridge. Debate began then as to where Ethan and Iqnu should be kept while they waited for others to arrive, but before this could be resolved Rivkah and Shelomith returned with Hinnah, all with torn kef and dust on their head and shoulders. Isheth had not been able to bear her injuries and had gone across. Ethan said nothing, did nothing, but looked away into the distance with no expression on his face. Iqnu grimaced, made as if to tear his own kef but then stopped. Nawar shook his head and sat on one of the nearby stones, head in hands. Qerith shook off the hands of the woman who had been sitting with her, took off her sandals, walked across to Iqnu and slapped him across his face with them, twice, side-to-side, before turning and walking away down the hill. Shelomith went with her.

It was as though Qerith’s actions stirred the community into action, as though they were like a judgement on the case. Two of the men nearby took Iqnu’s arms and led him into his own house. They shut his door and at Mahiram’s word, pushed a boulder against the door so it could not be opened. Ethan turned as though to go with Nawar, but he shook his head and turned away. Ethan stopped short, clearly shocked at his father’s response, and hung his head, speechless. Nawar walked away without turning. Hinnah wavered, looking this way and that between the two men, but eventually, with an anguished look at her son, followed her husband down the hill. Ethan was taken away to a hut adjoining one of the empty, unfamilied houses and put inside it, with a boulder against the door just as they had done with Iqnu. The group began to disperse, a buzz of conversation flowing like streams into the tracks and pathways, flooding into the doorways and filling up the individual houses.

The next morning the door of the hut Ethan had been placed in had been broken open from the inside, and the stone outside the seer’s house tossed to one side. Neither Ethan nor Iqnu were there. By the time Azziy arrived from Woodlands, Iqnu’s body had been found at the base of a low cliff just west of the village. He had died in the end from the fall, but before that had clearly been roughly treated. Ethan was nowhere to be found, but a group of the men who went hunting soon found the place where his tracks led away down into the valley, heading north-west towards the lowlands. They followed the trail for a few dozens of paces but then turned back to the village rather than go on. There seemed little point: the trail was perfectly clear but Ethan was not stopping for anything and had several hours start. When Qerith was told she made no reply, but simply moved back from Shelomith’s home into the great house by the stones and waited for the seer to arrive from Giybon.

In fact they came not from Giybon but from Meyim, a married couple called Saniyahu and Halith. Halith went in to be with Qerith, while Saniyahu called a meeting of the whole adult community beside the town gate and heard the whole tale told. Baruk was not there, nor Damariel, as their adolescent status did not qualify them as part of the formal assembly, but they heard of it later. Ethan was publicly declared no longer welcome in the village, though there seemed little chance he would attempt a return. Iqnu, though already dead, was proclaimed no longer a seer among the four towns, and denied any rights to a burial on their land or with his family. Azziy accepted the sum of four times the bride price that had been paid, renounced any further claim that there might be on Nawar’s family, and took Ishesth’s body to rest with her ancestors. Nawar had remained silent as he had weighed out the sum in silver and other goods in front of them all. The house that Isheth had shared with Ethan was to be pulled down and the stones scattered here and there around the village field walls and terraces, and such possessions as were in it would be given to widows and orphans. Only the foundations and a few of the bigger wall-stones would be left to mark the place in the community memory. Saniyahu and Halith were to take up the duty of town ministry themselves, starting right away, that very day. Apparently the seers had already met and decided the matter in an all-night vigil of talk and prayer. A younger couple, not long past apprenticeship, were to take their place at Meyim, releasing them to begin at Kephrath. Qerith, still veiled and silent, speaking only with Shelomith and Halith, packed her few belongings and moved back to be near family just past Shalem.

Milk & Honeyed Land

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Genre – Historical Fiction

Rating – PG13

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A Simple Soul by Vadim Babenko

Chapter 1

One July morning during a hot, leap-year summer, Elizaveta Andreyevna Bestuzheva walked out of an apartment building on Solyanka Street, the home of her latest lover. She lingered for a moment, squinting in the sun, then straightened her shoulders, raised her head proudly, and hurried along the sidewalk. It was almost ten, but morning traffic was still going strong – Moscow was settling into a long day. Elizaveta Andreyevna walked fast, looking straight ahead and trying not to meet anyone’s gaze. Still, at the corner of Solyansky Proyezd, an unrelenting stare invaded her space, but turned out to be a store’s window dressing in the form of a huge, green eye. Taken aback, she peered into it but saw only that it was hopelessly dead.

She turned left, and the gloomy building disappeared from view. Brushing off the memories of last night and the need to make a decision, Elizaveta felt the relief of knowing she was alone. She was sick of her lover – maybe that was the reason their meetings were becoming increasingly lustful. In the mornings, she wanted to look away and make a quick retreat, not even kissing him good-bye. But he was persistent, his parting ritual enveloping her like a heavy fog. Afterward, she always ran down the stairs, distrusting the elevator, and scurried away from the dreary edifice as if it were a mousetrap that had miraculously fallen open.

Elizaveta glanced at her watch, shook her head, and picked up speed. The sidewalk was narrow, yet she stepped lightly, oblivious of the obstacles: oncoming passersby, bumps and potholes, puddles left by last night’s rain. She wasn’t bothered by the city’s deplorable state, but a new sense of unease uncoiled deep inside her and slithered up her spine with a cold tickle. The giant eye still seemed to stare at her from under its heavy lid. She had a sense of another presence, a most delicate thread that connected her to someone else. Involuntarily, she jerked her shoulders, trying to shake off the feeling, and, after admonishing herself, returned to her contemplation.

Old Square gradually came into view, revealing the church that once stood over public executions, and the commercial section next to it crowded with merchant stalls and cars parked willy-nilly. Elizaveta navigated like a seasoned pilot, her shoes squelching in mud seemingly left over from centuries past. Finally, she reached the flimsy fence that, by some strange design, had no gate. She shook her head, stepped gracefully over a massive chain, and found herself in a park with the cool shade she longed for, even though it was still early in the day.

Then began the long journey up the hill. Elizaveta winked at Saints Cyril and Methodius, who stared bleakly at a plaque reading “From a Grateful Nation” – a bitter joke about a nation that never learned how to be grateful. She skirted a bench with a sleeping bum who exuded an unbearable stench, and, after a brief hesitation, took the left alley, which was slightly more shaded than the right.

The promise of another blistering day loomed over Moscow. The park was full of people – victims of morning hangovers, refugees from the nearby office buildings, clutching their beer cans. The adjacent bar was also far from empty. The waitress wandered lazily between the tables, fully aware of the power she wielded. Elizaveta surveyed the unfriendly territory. She noted the casualties dispassionately, without registering their faces, which looked blank in their identically aloof, self-absorbed expressions. She walked with virtually no effort, pretending to float above the sidewalk, the meager greenery, and the bushes filled with trash. Only once did she stumble – and it brought back the sense of that persistent, hidden gaze. She was probably only imagining it, but her heart remained heavy and her thoughts disintegrated into a confused jumble.

As she reached the top of the hill, the sun sliced into her eyes, and the smell of asphalt and burned gasoline filled her nostrils. Elizaveta crossed the road and arrived at the Polytechnic Museum, which cast a much better shadow than the despondent trees. Many years ago, this spot housed a zoo. The museum had fallen on hard times – possibly the hardest since the zoo’s Indian elephant broke under the persistent attention of gawkers and went on a rampage. The fate of the museum, much like the fate of the elephant, was regrettable, but Elizaveta had her own concerns. She continued to feel uneasy and even glanced over her shoulder. There was nothing there. She hesitated at a theater poster framed behind glass, watching the wavy reflections, but they looked harmless enough. Then she snorted, frustrated with herself, and read the advertisement inviting passersby to learn about varieties of packaging at a Packers’ Club that had found a home in the impoverished building. For a moment, she felt amused, and her unease took on a mystical, ghostly quality. Past the museum, Elizaveta gave the menacing Lubyanka building a cursory look and descended into the underground walkway, which led to her office building on Maly Cherkassky. With a glance at her watch, she hastened up the stairs – but the exit beckoned her with its bookstalls, and she gave in and began to examine the covers.

One of the books caught her attention. She opened up an imposing black tome, but somebody jostled her elbow and the book tumbled out of her hands, wreaking colorful havoc on the neatly arranged stand. In the resulting commotion, the woman next to Elizaveta yelped with surprise, a man’s deep voice muttered an apology, and the proprietor of the kiosk rushed to straighten out his wares, worried he might get robbed. Elizaveta tossed an absentminded “It’s okay” in the direction of the voice, whose owner’s face she never saw, and stepped aside to leaf through another book with a picturesque dust jacket. Its contents, however, proved to be too serious, and the second page was branded with a triangle that nearly covered the entire sheet. She immediately remembered something she once read: The triangle is a grand figure; it controls souls. It was an ill-timed sign, a dumb hint verging on mockery. Embarrassed, Elizaveta cast a furtive glance around, set the book down, and hurried away from the racks toward the old, five-story building that housed small companies and underfunded government offices.

A Simple Soul

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – PG13

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Website http://www.vadimbabenko.com/