22 October 2017

Wizardry Goes Wild by Sunayna Prasad

Middle Grade Fantasy
Date Published: February 20th, 2016
Publisher: Trafford

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After months of living a normal life, thirteen-year-old Alyssa McCarthy faces magic again. Only this time, though, she is cursed with it, thanks to an old depressed skeleton named Errol. Alyssa's time with her godfather, Alex, will never be the same again, as she can perform sorcery, but never control it. From letting out enchantments at school to creating outdoor disasters, Alyssa is bound to face consequences. She can only get rid of her powers if she can boost her confidence levels and improve her bravery. But it's not as easy as it sounds. She must measure those abilities with a special device called a skillometer. Will she be able to get rid of her unwanted wizardry?



About the Author

Sunayna Prasad is a college student studying art. In her free time, she likes to write fiction. She is also the author of From Frights to Flaws, which is the first installment of the series, Alyssa McCarthy's Magical Missions. Sunayna lives in New York with her family.

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20 October 2017

The Devil's Dragon by Jason F. Boggs



Space Opera, Science Fiction
Date Published: January 2017

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Set 80 years into the future, Nelson Jones, a young military cadet full of optimism and hope is enlisted into the New Era - a fascist regime that arises to rule the world after a horrifying attack from an alien species known as the Great Tribe.

Under the leadership of Earth's dictator, President Jacob Freeman with his ruthless enforcer, Major Ira Bilis, Nelson witnesses horrible abuses of power and is forced to confront his values and his world view to make difficult choices. When he happens across a small faction of resistance against this tyranny, Nelson must consider whether to risk his life to do what he feels is right.

Praise for The Devil's Dragon:

Choosing to persevere had been one of my better decisions as of late. As I read on, the tale improved vastly and almost before I realized it, I was hooked. It wasn't love at first sight, but the diverse cast of characters and the intriguing story line eventually drew me in. I'm glad this is a trilogy and I will be eagerly awaiting news of the next two releases. Well worth the read! 4/5 stars. - Bookplex

First in a trilogy, THE DEVIL'S DRAGON is a fascinating futuristic first contact story that challenges ideas about government, humanity and the fine line we walk between right and wrong. - IndieReader

Excerpt
Chapter 21: The Devil's Dragon

Ira Bilis stepped up to an awaiting shuttle, a lieutenant saluted her at the base of the landing ramp, she ignored this and walked past him to the top of the ramp, the loud clacking of her jack boots on the steel seemed to contradict her demure figure, she turned to regard the camp one last time, it was swarming with Aesini warriors, a small contingent of Paladins in defence formation were picking off any of the aliens who dared shoot at or make a rush toward their position.
She breathed in the carnage for a short time before regarding her junior officer with a smirk as he walked up to join her "It makes you feel alive doesn't it"? "Uh, yes ma'am".
"Is the shuttle loaded with what I ordered"?
"Yes ma'am, the storage containers have the trinkets that you selected from the local villages".
"I know what there are"! She tightened her grip on her riding crop, the familiar ominous leather on leather sound made him flinch. He knew that these cases of plunder was everything she had stolen from the Aesini, bracelets, earrings, fine fabrics, jewels, even some gold. He guessed that these spoils of war would fund her retirement.
"Give the order". She nodded to him who saluted, turned and barked to the small group of soldiers below. "Move out, go go go"! He made a wind up signal. "Yes LT"! They clamoured up the ramp and as it was closing, enemy bullets hit the steel door making a loud pinging sound. The shuttle took off with two dragonfly escorts, the last of the fighters that remained, the roar of its engines punctuated the tumult below, Nadija heard the turbulence and looked up to see the spectacle of the three ships taking off and shook her head with dismay. "She escaped didn't she"? Horx shared her conclusion.
"There are other ways to exact justice, the Gods will see to that". Seric sought to offer some comforting words, Nadija gave him a sinister grin "No, not the Gods, we will".
Seric gave her a look of displeasure and cleared his throat for a rebuttal; however, Nadija felt the need to supplement her thoughts.
"We don't have time to discuss the finer points of faith and philosophy my friend but suffice it to say, we are all made of stars and both of us are tiny insignificant life forms scuttling around under the same sun like microbes in a Petri dish, that makes us more or less the same under any God or Gods that you nominate, whether there is a God or Gods or not, whether we're here because of evolution only or evolution assisted by intelligent design from a higher power, it doesn't really matter in the end, I just do what I do because it makes me feel good".
"Doesn't really matter? Creation is not purely by chance look around you! We are the instruments of the Gods, some are called upon to carry out their will, others work against it merely to benefit themselves, most do nothing overall, I most certainly disagree with your simplistic assessment". Seric coughed with incredulity.
"That's your right, let's just keep moving". Horx wasn't inclined toward profound conversation at this point. "Wow Nadija that's kinda deep, here I was thinking you were just a soldier".
"No one's just anything Evan, what we are isn't nearly as important as who we are". Her eyes had a sparkle in them whenever she looked at him lately and it made his heart skip a beat. "To be continued over some noodles". He smiled, hoping she understood that noodles was a euphemism for so much more.
They ran down an embankment until they arrived at the main entrance to the camp, Seric took his temporary blanket robe off "I think we'll be safe here". He declared as he waved to a group of about a hundred Aesini, clearly this area at least was secure and although gun shots could still be heard in the distance, Nadija gestured for Horx to put his weapon away.
There were at least fifty Paladins squatted with their hands on their heads. As Seric was greeted by his fellow warriors, Nadija asked "You guys are taking prisoners?"
Seric glanced at the POWs and nodded "They can be used at the negotiating table, they will be treated with more kindness then you humans afforded us".
"Present company excluded, don't paint us all with the same brush". Nadija protested.
"Right, of course, I'm sorry it's just that whatever the outcome, prejudices will remain, so much damage has already been done".
An elderly warrior rode up atop a strider and peered down with a smile "Seric, the fact that you’re still alive proves that the Gods have a sense of humour".
"Chief Naid, the convert Nelson Jones is at the base hospital with Meaghan, we have to go rescue them". Nadija looked up to regard him.
"Lead the way then". Naid let out a whistle to summon a mank, when one appeared Alene's face was already on its belly.
"Nelson's at the infirmary with Meaghan". Naid reported.
"That area is in the middle, still unsecured, gather up your troops, I'll head in from the West, you take the south and we'll meet up there, the dragonflies have retreated to their mother ship for now, probably to resupply so we must act fast".
Naid saluted his daughter. "Alright, you heard your queen, move out"! And enthusiastic roar of approval erupted from the warriors as they swarmed up the alley that Seric and his entourage had just come from.
Nadija held out her hand to Horx to stop him and shook her head. "We've done enough fighting, let's find a safe area and see if your little experiment worked".
Horx nodded and turned on his tablet, scrolling through some menus, Wong's concerned face appeared on the screen. "Report Evan".
"Mission failed but I think we still have an outcome that may be to our advantage".
"I have heard that the Aesini have overrun the camp yes"?
"True enough, it's safe for you to meet up with us now, we'll be in guard post...". Horx looked up and saw some large numbers emblazoned on the side of a white tower, a single Aesini warrior was in position at the window. "... Sixteen".
"What will you be doing up there"? Wong cocked an eyebrow.
He glanced at Nadija who blushed. "Watching some TV" Horx smilled.
The atmosphere inside the shuttle was sombre, Resen had fallen to the enemy and the soldiers had their heads bowed with the shock and disappointment of defeat, except Bilis who strode up and down between them with her head held high, she gently tapped each of their knees with her riding crop to get their attention.
"Ladies and gentlemen". They all regarded her, including Botany who sat silently between the crates at the back of the cabin, almost unseen like he was part of her loot.
"We are now in space, about to dock with the command ship, despite appearances, we have not lost, this is part of a greater plan that the President has foreseen". She smiled menacingly.
"There is a moment of truth that is about to occur, a moment of reckoning that will determine the outcome of this struggle against the alien menace, I'm taking overall command of this mission to ensure final victory and I need to know if you are with me or against me, right now".
She peered into each of their eyes, one by one and in turn they answered "with you ma'am", "loyal and true", yes sir", "to the end", "now and forever".
She didn't bother with Botany; he sat there expressionless, silent in the shadows.
"Good, when the moment comes, I will give you the codeword "downfall", at that moment you will not hesitate to open fire on Admiral Reece, he has refused a direct order from the Central to fire upon the enemy which has now taken over the camp, once we take command
of the Gilly, we bomb the shit out of them, we do not tolerate weakness in the new era do you get me"?!
"We get you sir"!
When the shuttle landed in the main docking bay, Reece was there with a ceremonial compliment of troops to greet her, she was obviously outnumbered, now was not the right time.
"Major Ira Bilis, it's good to see that you made it out, I've been in contact with the President and have given him an update of the situation". She saluted Reece who returned in kind.
"Admiral, it was by the skin of my teeth that I escaped and the bravery of my Paladins shall not be forgotten, by the way it's General Bilis now". She turned to look at her troops and gave them a small smile.
"I didn't hear of this promotion, congratulations". His face had a sceptical expression.
"May we meet in private"?
"Of course, there is much to discuss". Reece gave a junior officer a nod who gave the order to dismiss the honour guard, as they marched off, Reece held out his hand for her to walk toward another exit which would eventually lead them to the ship's meeting room.
"You may dismiss your troops General; they've fought well and must be eager for R&R".
"They will have earned it before this day is over". She agreed, her pace was slow as they walked, it didn't occur to him that she was stalling for time, waiting until his troops had entirely left the docking bay before confronting him.
"Are you injured"? He feigned concern.
"Just fatigued sir, a little battered and bruised too". This was the truth.
When they got to the exit door, Reece's troops were finally gone but Bilis's contingent remained in formation behind her, Reece's face had a growing look of concern. "Dismiss your troops General or I will for you".
"Not yet".
Reece went to grab his cylinder but Bilis put her hand on his wrist to stop him, the concerned expression now turned to alarm. "What the hell's going on Ira"?
Her troops now cocked their rifles and trained them on him.
"Oh my God".
"Admiral, I am taking over this mission, I would much prefer that you remain in command of the Gilgamesh and we'll pretend that this little awkward moment never happened as long as you acknowledge that I'm in charge overall".
"The president's in charge overall". He scowled at her. "And he has deemed me fit for command of the expeditionary forces, I am the Admiral you silly little girl"!
He regarded the soldiers behind her. "When you put on that uniform, you took a sacred oath to follow the proper chain of command put forth by the leader himself, put down your weapons, that's an order or you'll be in front of a firing squad"! He barked at them but they remained unmoved.
Bilis walked a circle around Reece, her riding crop twisting between her leather gloves at her back. "Reece, this is an opportunity for you to make things right, this is the turning point of this war, all you have to do is resume your post as fleet Admiral and follow my orders, the first being to bomb the crap out of the camp below and then Apolinya, is that understood"?
"I only follow orders from two people Ira, Jessie and Jacob, we've known each other for a long time, from the start, you know I can't change that, you know there is no compromise"!
"They're not here, they will never be here, this system belongs to us now and the only way we can rule it is with an iron fist, the outcast colonies will be a shinning beacon, an unreachable
outpost of the new era, an impregnable fortress, a utopia of strength and order defying a universe of chaos, I'm giving you the chance to be a part of that Adam, to revel in its glory!"
Her eyes sparkled with a maniacal intensity as she made a fist, Reece grimaced, she'd never called him by his first name before. "President Freeman ordered that I do not bomb the camp and withdraw the fighters, unlike you he values his personnel still down there". He looked at the troops in her entourage. "You are only here to forward her agenda, she's addicted to power, that's why Freeman held her back on a short leash, he knew she'd turn out like this, don't you see that"?
"He lies, last chance Reece, join me". She stared into his eyes at close range and for a moment he could see something he couldn't reconcile with his mind, it was fire blazing in her eyes, was it his fear playing tricks with his eyes?
"Never". He whispered.
Her troops raised their guns, ready to fire on her orders.
"Downfall".
Reece slumped under a hail of bullets, dying in a pool of his blood he looked up at her standing over him.
"You're the devil". He managed to spit out before he closed his eyes and ceased to exist.
"No, I am the devil's dragon". She whispered to herself as she walked out of the hangar, her troops marching in formation behind her. "I am what the universe has made me". The doors closed behind her, only Botany remained, standing in the middle of the bay, alone, forgotten.
Meaghan lay on the operating table, coughing meekly and wheezing she stared into his eyes. "I love you Nelson".
"That's twice I've heard that today but you're the only one I wanted to hear it from". He held her cool hand tightly as the doctor applied anesthetic over her mouth and hooked her up to various machines.
"She's haemorrhaging; I've got to go in now". He muttered. The doctor was soaked in the blood of patients he'd worked on before her, his expression was frazzled.
"Save her doc".
"I can only play with the cards I'm dealt, the less you talk from now on the better so shut up".
Her eyes closed under the effect of the anaesthesia and the doctor proceeded to cut her open, he didn't even bother cleaning the equipment first.
Some minutes of silence passed as he worked furiously over her, the doctors face was obscured by his mask so Nelson watched his eyes, he didn't like what he saw, the eyes betrayed him, they looked increasingly less confident and Nelson's heart sank, tears welled in his eyes.
"Please doc, please save her, she's pregnant".
"You don't think I know that"?!
They heard shouting and shots being fired from outside the operating theatre and for a moment they looked at each other with trepidation, the doctor then returned to Meaghan and shook his head. "Looks like your war found its way here". He grumbled.
The doors swang open to the theatre, a few Aesini walked in and raised their weapons at them, Nelson stood up, his hands raised. "I'm done fighting".
A female stepped forward adorned in a purple cape. "Are you Nelson Jones"? To his surprise she could speak English.
He nodded, his hands still raised.
"Do you mind? I'm trying to save a life here"! The doctor bellowed.
"Two lives". Nelson tilted his head toward the doctor who shook his head regretfully, one of the machines made a flat line sound.
"No, just one now".
Nelson lowered his hands and turned to look over Meaghan, she was gone.
"Oh Jesus no, no no no, why God why"? His tears now flowed down his face as he sobbed over her, his expression grew dark. "Bring her back"!
The doctor shook his head, Nelson pulled out his pistol and raised it to the doctor "Bring her back, at least try, why don't you at least try"?!
Naid leaned over and grabbed his gun, wrenching it off him, Alene held him as he cried, he wasn't even aware that he was embracing the alien. Seric walked over and put a sympathetic hand on his shoulder. "Too much death has been seen today". Naid whispered.
The doctor continued to operate "I can save the child but she will need an incubator to survive, she's premature".
"Tell me where to find this incubator". Alene said.
"There's none on this mound of shit you call Resen, the only ones we have are on the capital ships, the Gilgamesh has one.
Nelson wiped his eyes and looked at the doctor "I'm sorry about my reaction doctor".
"I've seen worse, now, can you get me on that ship"?
He thought for a moment and shook his head regretfully. "No, I don't see how".
Alene stepped in front of him and looked into his eyes "Never lose hope Nelson, the Gods have determined that we meet for a reason".
"Who are you"?
"I am Alene, first Empress of the Great Tribe and I will lead all of us, human and Aesini alike to the path of righteousness".
Naid and Seric looked at each other and said in bemused unison "Empress"?
"This is my father Chief Naid and my good friend Seric".
They nodded and Nelson let out a slow exhale. "So, what now"?
"Now you need to name this child". A small cry could be heard behind them and they all turned to see a new born baby girl being cradled in the doctor’s arms, so tiny and fragile and Nelson let out a gasp, he couldn't believe his eyes. He walked over and held out his little finger, the baby's hand could feel it and grasped at it.
"Liana".
"Why this name"? Alene asked.
"That was the name of Meaghan's grandmother, she told me about her once, right about the time my daughter was conceived in fact". He smiled, recalling the moment of his short lived intimacy with Meaghan; it seemed so long ago now. "She lived in a better time, a better world, far from perfect but better".
"Then the birth of this child shall herald better times again". Alene declared.
"Touching, but she's only got a few hours to enjoy these better times unless we get her to an incubator and a proper hospital". The doctor growled.

About the Author


After completing two degrees, Jason F Boggs has spent over 25 years in the hotel industry where he experiences peoples' true natures - both good and bad, fertile ground for these stories. Jason currently lives on the Gold Coast in Australia with his wife SueEllen who patiently endures his imagination and their two cats, who do not.

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19 October 2017

Love in the Cretaceous by Howard W. Robertson



Literary Fiction
Date Published: May 2017

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Love in the Cretaceous akes place in a dinosaur park in Oregon a hundred years in the future. Ted Beebe has lost the love of his life and must suddenly find his way alone in old age. He finds young people to take the place of his wife and himself in assuring the survival of Cretaceous World, the park his wife and he created. Global warming has proceeded as predicted, and the fate of Homo sapiens has become obviously uncertain. People come to see the genetically engineered recreations of dinosaurs and are made more aware of humanity’s own vulnerability to extinction. Ted succeeds in creating a new family structure whose three generations will guide the park through the immediate future. He also keeps alive his wife’s memory while coping with the challenges of the uncertain future.
Excerpt

Love in the Cretaceous: [chapter 3]
Tumtum
by Howard W. Robertson
It takes your breath away to see a Brontosaur run.
Bud sees the two of them thundering towards us though and has plenty of breath
left to holler, “And down the stretch they come!”
We know from fossil thigh-bones that Brontosaurs were capable of a slow run,
so we designed our pair to do about a dozen miles per hour. To see an animal 70 feet
long and weighing 50,000 pounds move that fast seems nothing less than miraculous.
Lana has used the giant crane to drop a couple tons of mixed ferns, horsetails,
and gingko and araucarian leaves into the Brontosaur area. The crane is 50 feet high
with a long arm so the two sauropods won’t bang their heads on it, since they can only
reach up to about 25 feet with their long necks.
It’s May 2117, and the angiosperms are in bloom all around these two colossal
creatures from the end of the Jurassic. We called it close enough and just sort of rolled
them into Cretaceous World, our magnificent dinosaur park. Brontosaurs flourished
around 150 million years ago, well before the rise of the flowering plants about 30
million years later in the Cretaceous period. When our genetic engineers designed the
genome for our pair, they tried to make them as authentic as possible, so the two of
them really prefer the kind of food they would have eaten way back when. That’s why
they come running at feeding time when we give them the ancient gymnosperms that
they like best. There’s actually a large nursery in the neighboring town of Dewberry
that’s dedicated to supplying our herbivores with food from the time of the dinosaurs.
Lana gets down out of the crane and walks over to me.
She says, “I’d sure like to see a whole herd of these moving together.”
Lana has a Ph.D. in paleontology from SUNG and knows full well why we
couldn’t handle that. Our pen of seven miles by four miles is barely big enough for the
two Brontosaurs we do have. By the way, I’m so glad the alternate name has died away
over the past hundred years: “thunder lizard” is so much more appropriate for these
giants than “deceptive lizard.”
I say, “Wouldn’t that be grand?”
She smiles and tosses her long blonde ponytail. Then she goes over to Bud and
gives him an assignment to do.
Lana is actually Bud’s supervisor, though her youthfulness and the flecks of
grey everywhere in Bud’s hair might suggest the opposite. Bud drove a big rig longhaul
for over a decade before joining our staff here at Cretaceous World. He’s happy as a
clam here. We offer generous salary, great job security, comprehensive health benefits,
a month’s paid vacation, and a rock-solid pension. Not bad for a high school graduate
from Roseburg.
Lana returns to my side and says, “Really, I love imagining the whole herds of
these guys that roamed around Western Laurasia.”
I enjoy it that she knows it’s Laurasia still and not yet Laramidia, since the
Brontosaur was in the late Jurassic, 50 million years before Laramidia formed.
She says, “Have you ever heard them crack their tails like bullwhips? It’s
amazing. You can imagine that they could knock over an Allosaur with their tails and
then just stomp on it with their huge clawed feet. Once they got big like this, they really
didn’t have much to fear from predators.”
I say, “I understand they grew very fast when they were young, and then once
they were full-grown, they could live well past a hundred years.”
She says, “Yeah, some paleontologists speculate about three hundred years as a
reasonable guess for how long a Brontosaur could live.”
I say, “I spent the early part of my career studying the smallest of single-celled
life-forms who could basically live forever if conditions were right. Bacteria had no
programmed cell-death. It wasn’t until the larger nucleated cells came along that death
from old age became possible.”
She says, “You started out with the tiniest living beings who began around four
billion years ago. Bruce and Phyllis here must seem like giant newcomers to you.”
I enjoy her use of the nicknames the crew gave the Brontosaur couple.
I say, “The Cambrian explosion changed everything. Between 600 and 500
million years ago, life got larger fast. In a few blinks of geologic time, the sauropods
were leaving their footprints all over the landscape of the Morrison Formation not so far
from here.”
She says, “You’ve covered all of life on Earth in your career, from tiny
beginning to the recent hugeness. Nice.”
We pause and watch Bruce and Phyllis enjoy their meal.
She asks, "Do you think we mammals would’ve taken over from the dinosaurs if
the big asteroid hadn’t hit the Gulf of Mexico?”
I reply, “I doubt it. We were just scurrying around the margins and doing things
at night when our fully warm-blooded metabolism gave us an advantage. The dinosaurs
were the most successful animals ever to stride the Earth and would’ve continued to
dominate us. Their demise was our golden opportunity.”
She smiles and goes off with Bud, who has finished his task and returned.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
After watching the feeding of the Brontosaurs, I return to the residence. It
always makes me childishly happy to come home to the palace that Becky and I are
privileged to inhabit. I don’t like to think of myself as a superficial person, but in this
one regard, I’m really quite shallow.
Chandler greets me at the entrance in his usual cheery way.
I say, “I’m going up to the tea room. Please bring me a bowl of fresh
strawberries and a big pot of tea with lemon.”
He says, “Yes, sir, as you wish. Will there be anything else?”
I say, “No, just the tea and strawberries. Thank you, Chandler.”
The tea room is how we refer to the large semi-circular area on the second floor
at the rear of the edifice. It faces north away from Cretaceous World and overlooks
Tumtum Creek. The entire curved wall of the tea room is made of sheets of shatterproof
glass. They’re fitted together so artfully that you can only find the seams if you
get close and inspect the surface of the glass very carefully.
Outside, the temperature is 95 degrees Fahrenheit on this mid-afternoon in late
May, but the air conditioning keeps it cool and refreshing in here. The half-acre of solar
panels on the roof of the residence give us plenty of electricity for all the conveniences
we fancy.
I ascend the spiral staircase and make my way to the tea room. I park myself on
the antique Stickley couch and gaze out at the dense forest. Red alders and vine maples
are leafing out along the creek, as are the oaks up the hillside. The endless pines are
green as ever.
Chandler soon brings the tea and strawberries and sets them on the small table in
front of me. I enjoy his style and politeness. It’s very soothing.
I say, “I’d like to hear the creek, please.”
Chandler turns on the sound from Tumtum Creek. A microphone has been
hidden at a spot where the rushing water passes over a series of three small waterfalls,
none of which is more than a foot high. The gorgeous natural music floods the tea room
from surrounding speakers. It’s complex and simple at the same time.
Chandler discreetly leaves the room.
I say to myself, “Tumtum,” remembering its meaning in the Chinook Jargon:
heart, mind, will.
I sip the delicious Earl Grey tea with two lemons fresh-squeezed into the pot. I
pick up a luscious strawberry and take a big bite out of it.
I think, “Tumtum. Perfect.”
At this moment, Becky appears. She’s been to the doctor in New Geneva for
her annual checkup.
She quietly says, “Hey.”
I answer, “Hey.”
I immediately sense something’s not right.
She says, “The creek sounds nice.”
She says it as if she’s remembering how it sounds, not actually hearing it right
now.
I ask, “Care for a strawberry?”
I lift the bowl and hold it out to her.
She says, “No, thanks. I don’t think I could eat anything right now.”
She sits down beside me on the plush maroon couch.
I say, “Tea, then?”
Chandler thoughtfully brought two cups when he delivered the tea.
She says, “No.”
I ask, “Something the doctor said?”
She says, “Yeah, you could say that. She definitely said something.”
I put my half-eaten strawberry down on a coaster and wait.
She says, “My lab work turned up a problem. They found positive indications
for Stander’s disease.”
I say, “Heard the name. Not familiar.”
She explains, “It’s a new virus that’s come along in the last couple decades, now
that the climate’s changed so much. It’s a kind of dementia accompanied by a physical
wasting away. You lose your mind and your body. You lose it all. You lose yourself.
You’ve got two to three years from the time it shows up in the tests to when you’re still
alive but you’re not you anymore.”
I don’t know what to say. I’m not prepared in any way to deal with this. It’s the
last thing I was expecting to hear her say.
I say, “You look so healthy. You look so well.”
I’m looking at her, and she turns her head and looks at me with her beautiful
green eyes. Tears begin to trickle down her cheeks, and I put my arms around her. My
own eyes fill with tears and overflow.
I ask, “Is there any doubt about the diagnosis?”
She says, “She’s repeating the tests just to make 110 percent sure, but she
doesn’t hold out any false hope. She says the diagnosis is clear. The lab results are
unambiguous.”
She utters a single sob, and I hug her harder.
She says, “It’s difficult to accept that it’s true. It doesn’t seem possible.”
I agree, “No, it doesn’t seem real at all.”
She asks, “I’d like to go down by the creek: can we?”
I reply, “Of course.”
There’s a door off the tea room opening onto stairs down to Tumtum Creek.
We’re both a bit wobbly as we descend. I hold onto the railing, and Becky holds tightly
onto me.
It’s muggy outside. The temperature is at least fifteen degrees cooler in the
shade down by the creek.
I say, “There’s supposed to be a thunderstorm tonight.”
She says, “It feels like it.”
We stop beside the rushing flow of the creek.
She asks, “Do you ever wish we’d had a child?”
I lie, “No.”
She comments, “I suppose this whole place, Cretaceous World, is our child. It’s
why we’re alive. It’s our purpose in life.”
I agree, “Yes, I suppose it is. I hadn’t thought of it that way exactly, but I
suppose it’s so.”
She says, “I’m glad we don’t have a child who has to face this, my dying, his or
her mother’s dying.”
I agree, “It would be hard to tell a child.”
We’re silent thinking about breaking the news to a child we don’t have.
She says, “I don’t want you to have to face losing your wife before she’s
actually dead. I don’t want to live past the time when I’m still myself.”
I ask, “What do you mean?”
She says, “You know what I mean.”
I say, “You mean assisted suicide.”
She confirms, “Yes, I want to consider it in a year or two when the time comes,
when it’s obvious that I don’t have much longer before I don’t know who you are or
anything we’ve done together.”
I embrace her.
I say, “Of course. However you want. I’ll be with you whatever comes.”
She says, “I don’t want you to remember me like I’ll become if I let it happen. I
want you to remember me like this.”
We kiss tenderly, and all the love and joy of all our life together is in this kiss.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I’m standing in the tower at night. Lightning flashes and crashes outside the
panoramic glass windows.
I think, “Like the late Jurassic.”
We have a whole crew of forest workers dedicated to maintaining a 300-yard
firebreak around the dinosaur areas. It’s in effect a circumambient meadow. Deer
graze there. We also have dinosaur-sized, cave-like fire shelters in every area. We
humans have our cars and our roads in case we need to flee. There’s never been a forest
fire here at Cretaceous World, but we’re ready for what’s probably the inevitable.
The flashing and crashing continue outside the windows of the circular fourth
floor.
I suddenly notice I’m not alone. There’s a plump, slope-shouldered fellow in a
nice suit standing beside me.
He says soothingly, “Never fear, my friend, all is well.”
I find I know his name.
I turn toward him and say, “Diablo, my nemesis, what brings you here tonight?”
He winks and says, “You know.”
I find I do.
I say, “Becky.”
He says, “You find you wish Stander’s Disease were an enemy, a villain you
could face and kill with a knife-thrust to the navel, do you not?”
He’s not wrong.
I say, “When cellular life on Earth began around four billion years ago,
immortality was possible. It wasn’t until the nucleated protists came along much later
that death became inevitable.”
He says, “You call me Diablo, but you know I’m really just entropy.”
I say, “You’re the inevitable death of the Universe.”
A titanic bolt of lightning flashes across the sky, and at least fifteen seconds


About the Author


Howard W. Robertson lives in Eugene, Oregon, where his ancestors arrived as members of the Lost Wagon Train of 1853. He has previously published two books of fiction and ten books of poetry. He has won the Sinclair Poetry Prize, the Robinson Jeffers Prize for Poetry, the Bumbershoot Award, and numerous other competitions. His work has been published in Nest, Literal Latté, Nimrod, Fireweed, and many other journals. His poetry has been anthologized in many collections, including The Clear Cut Future and The Ahsahta Anthology: Poetry of the American West. His work has been deeply influenced by a lifelong love of Russian literature. For more about Howard W. Robertson, see his webpage: www.howardwrobertson.com.

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18 October 2017

New Planet, New World by Ian Prattis

Futuristic Literature, Dystopian
Date Published:  October 2016

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Ian Prattis transports you to a faraway planet. Earth is dying due to Humankind’s damage to the environment. The clash of cultures, late in the twenty first century, opens this epic novel of pioneers establishing community in a nearby galaxy.

This futuristic finale of a trilogy stands on award winning books Redemption and Trailing Sky Six Feathers. Buy a print copy and receive the two prior books for free.

About the Author


Dr. Ian Prattis is Professor Emeritus at Carleton University in Ottawa, Zen teacher, peace and environmental activist.  Born in the UK, he has spent much of his life living and teaching in Canada. His moving and eye-opening books are a memorable experience for anyone who enjoys reading about primordial tendencies. Beneath the polished urban facade remains a part of human nature that few want to acknowledge, either due to fear or simply because it is easier to deny the basic instincts that have kept us alive on an unforgiving earth. Prattis bravely goes there in his outstanding literary work.

He is an award winning author of fifteen books. Recent awards include Gold for fiction at the 2015 Florida Book Festival (Redemption), 2015 Quill Award from Focus on Women Magazine (Trailing Sky Six Feathers) and Silver for Conservation from the 2014 Living Now Literary Awards (Failsafe: Saving the Earth From Ourselves). His book Redemption is being made into a movie. His poetry, memoirs, fiction, articles, blogs and podcasts appear in a wide range of venues. A Poet, Global Traveler, Founder of Friends for Peace, Guru in India, and Spiritual Warrior for planetary care, peace and social justice, he offers public talks and retreats all over the world. Ian lives in Ottawa, Canada and encourages people to find their true nature, so that humanity and the planet may be renewed. He mostly stays local to help turn the tide in his home city so that good things begin to happen spontaneously.


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17 October 2017

Murder at Broadcast Park by Bill Evans


Thriller / Mystery
eBook Published: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Koehler Books October 2017

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Before this current age of broadcasting acquisitions and mergers, local TV stations were owned by the broadcasters, not investment firms. They lived to tell the stories of their communities. In Murder at Broadcast Park, the CBS station located in the rich resort town of Santa Barbara becomes it’s own story. “We never want to be our own news,” was the mandate from Barry Burke, the station’s news director. Except in this case, people are dying. With three murders, more affairs, but no suspects, investigators peer behind the scenes of the local news. Pull the veil off to find twists, turns, and secrets behind the scenes of this resort TV station and its cast of TV professionals. Nothing is off limits.


Praise for Murder at Broadcast Park:

"Add Murder At Broadcast Park to your must read book list - immediately!" --John Hannon, President, Jim Doyle & Associates, author of the Amazon best-selling book series, Engaged Management

"Lights..camera..Homicide ..Broadcasting Icon Bill Evans has crafted a tantilizing tale.. a real sex, lies and videotape odyssey into a dark side of the TV news business Sordid..salacious..from beginning to end." --Phil Blauer, News Anchor, FOX 5, San Diego

"Murder, sex scandals and cover-ups. It sounds like a great news day until you find out: you are the news!" --Dana Beards, Political Reporter, Capitol Television News Service

"A serious page-turner for serious 'who done it' fans. Don't read the first page of Murder at Broadcast Park unless you plan to race through every page until the end. Vivid and memorable characters. A twisty plot that keeps you guessing. And all of it in laid back Santa Barbara where murders are not the norm. Right? In his sojourn novel Bill Evans proves himself to be a master story teller. I can't wait for his next one. Hint. Hint." --David Welch, Talk Show Host, WRNR

"I was hooked on the first page and then could not put this book down. Murder at Broadcast House captured me with real characters and a great story. A perfect escape book until I realized how realistic it really was." --Jim Doyle, Founder, Jim Doyle & Associates

"Bill Evans has created a fabulous look "inside a working Newsroom" while at the same time, crafting a "page turning" thriller that will have you glued to every scene. As someone who spent 54 years in Newsrooms from New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas, to Reno, Idaho Falls, and Bozeman, I LOVED IT!" --Ted Dawson, Former Sportscaster KABC-Los Angeles


About the Author


Bill Evans has been VP/GM for television stations in Santa Barbara and Palm Springs for over twenty years. He ran affiliate networks for ABC, CBS, and FOX. Currently residing in Atascadero, California, Evans is an avid golfer and active in community events and charities, including celebrity events from the Frank Sinatra Celebrity Invitational to the Palm Springs Film Festival.

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16 October 2017

Amish Widow's Hope by Samantha Price


Clean Romance
Expectant Amish Widows, Book 1
Published: February 2016

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Newly widowed Amish woman, Anita Graber, has returned to live with her brother and his family in Lancaster County.
As an expectant widow, she is quite surprised when everyone from the bishop's wife to her brother decides that her baby needs a father. Anita endures many embarrassing moments as she's forced into one awkward situation after another.

Even though another man is the last thing on her mind, she finds a friend in her sister-in-law's brother, Simon. Anita wonders why everyone has rejected Simon as a suitable match for her.

Will Anita finally convince everyone that she and her baby are happy on their own?

Could the man that no one sees her with, be the very man who eventually captures her heart?

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About the Author


Samantha Price is a best selling author who knew she wanted to become a writer at the age of seven, while her grandmother read to her Peter Rabbit in the sun room. Though the adventures of Peter and his sisters Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail started Samantha on her creative journey, it is now her love of Amish culture that inspires her to write. Her writing is clean and wholesome, with more than a dash of sweetness. Though she has penned over one hundred and twenty Amish Romance and Amish Mystery books, Samantha is just as in love today with exploring the spiritual and emotional journeys of her characters as she was the day she first put pen to paper. Samantha lives in a quaint Victorian cottage with three rambunctious dogs.


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07 October 2017

Money.Power.Love by Joss Sheldon



Historical Fiction / Literary Fiction
Date Published: October 7, 2017

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“All wars are bankers’ wars”

Born on three adjacent beds, a mere three seconds apart, our three heroes are united by a shared nature, but divided by a compulsion to chase three very different things: Money, power and love.

This is a human story; a tale about people like ourselves, cajoled by the whimsy of circumstance, who find themselves performing the most beautiful acts as well as the most vulgar.

This is a historical story; a tale set in the early 1800s, which shines a light on how bankers, with the power to create money out of nothing, were able to shape the world we live in today.

And this is a love story; a tale about three men, who all fall in love with the same woman, at exactly the same time.


About the Author

Joss Sheldon is a scruffy nomad, unchained free-thinker, and post-modernist radical. Born in 1982, he was brought up in one of the anonymous suburbs which wrap themselves around London's beating heart. Then he escaped!

With a degree from the London School of Economics to his name, Sheldon had spells selling falafel at music festivals, being a ski-bum, and failing to turn the English Midlands into a haven of rugby league.

Then, in 2013, he ran off to McLeod Ganj; an Indian village which plays home to thousands of angry monkeys, hundreds of Tibetan refugees, and the Dalai Lama himself. It was there that Sheldon wrote his debut novel, 'Involution & Evolution'.

With several positive reviews to his name, Sheldon had caught the writing bug. He travelled to Palestine and Kurdistan, where he researched his second novel, 'Occupied'; a dystopian masterpiece unlike any other story you've ever read.

It was with his third novel, ‘The Little Voice’, that Sheldon really hit the big time; topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, and gaining widespread critical acclaim.

Now Sheldon has returned with his fourth, and most ambitious novel yet. “Money Power Love” is a literary mélange of historical, political and economic fiction; a love story that charts the rise of the British Empire, and the way in which bankers, with the power to create money out of nothing, were able to shape the world we live in today.

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02 October 2017

Author Interview with Saiswaroopa Iyer




Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda
But largely forgotten to the memory of India
Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala

Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.
Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?


An Interview

When did you decide to become a writer?
Wish there were a simple answer to this. My mother has a post graduate degree in English literature and is a big admirer of Indian writers like Maharishi Aurobindo and also the poets of the British romantic era. The roots of my love for writing were sown by her. But the trigger was mainly when I started reading Krishnavatara by KM Munshi and Ponniyin Selvan by Kalki Krishnamurthi. Both the writers had just the amount of inspiration in their writings to make me take up the pen, errr…..I mean take up my laptop and start typing the first draft!

What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I love delving into the minor episodes of Indian Purana-Itihasa corpus and expanding them into full length novels. Abhaya was my first attempt to reimagine a couple of chapters of Srimad Bhagavatam and expand the episode into a novel. This is inspired by a literary exercise called Prabandha, which was in vogue in historical India in the 16th Century. Avishi, my second novel was a re-imagination of the legend of Vishpala who is mentioned in only a precious few hymns of Rig Veda! In the coming years, I want to write some stories associated with both these books and also attempt a historical series on Eastern Chalukya Kings and their contribution to Telugu Literature. Beyond that, I strongly believe that characters and stories choose their story tellers. Let us see which of those intriguing figures of our past choose me :)

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
My protagonist Avishi (known as Vishpala in the Rig Veda) is a head of a republican settlement in very ancient India. Vishpala is one of the earliest recorded female warrior in Indian literature. Not only that, she loses her leg in a battle mentioned as Khela’s battle and returns with a prosthetic leg! A phenomenon which is no less than a miracle even in our times. The legend is considered as the world’s first reference to prosthesis and is a unique example of innovation and egalitarianism in ancient India.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Having a dedicated writing time is advisable and I am trying to fall into that discipline. But roughly, my typical day is divided between reading, writing and marketing. Each activity takes the lead depending upon the priority for the day. I love to network and that is one activity. Going forward, I want to devote a couple of hours to writing every day independent of other deliverables and schedules.

Where do the ideas come from?
They mostly come from my readings of ancient Indian literature. I am also a huge fan of Telugu Pravachana and Katha sessions by scholars like Dr. Garikipati Narasimha Rao and Sri Samavedam Shanmukha Sarma. They manage to delve into the lesser known stories of our literature and also deliver the implied wisdom behind them and that makes me think and read more. 

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I do both! The early drafts of Abhaya were a result of euphoric ‘pantsting’. It is exhilarating to discover the story as you write and acknowledge the story teller hidden in your fingertips! But I have also realized the advantages of outlining. Avishi and my current WIP happened because I had a rough outline and worked on it. Outlining and plotting help us anchor the story and explore deeper into the finer aspects of the craft. 

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Writers block is a problem we all writers have to live with. One of the most painful writer’s blocks I have passed through lasted for more than 18 months with several bouts of self-doubt urging me to give up writing altogether. But thankfully my characters did not desert me and I could get back to it. Three things help me break the block
1) Forgiving myself for bad writing and writing anyway. (After all bad writing can be edited. No writing can’t be!)
2) A change of place for writing. (Library, café or any place different from the usual one)
3) A change in writing topic itself. A short break from the current draft helps at times

What can we expect from you down the line?
More stories and episodes that are hidden in our epics and recent history too! I hope they reveal themselves to me and I can do justice to all of them! 


About the Author:
Saiswaroopa is an IITian and a former investment analyst turned author. Her keen interest in ancient Indian history, literature and culture made her take to writing. Her debut novel Abhaya, set in the times of Mahabharata was published in 2015. Avishi, her second novel set in Vedic India explores the legend of India’s first mentioned female warrior queen Vishpala.
She holds a certificate in Puranas from Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. She is also trained in Carnatic Classical music and has won a state level gold medal from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. 





01 October 2017

Murder Misread by P.M. Carlson

http://www.partnersincrimetours.net/murder-misread-p-m-carlson/

Murder Misread

by P.M. Carlson

October 1-31, 2017 Book Tour

Synopsis:

Murder Misread by P.M. Carlson
In 1977, statistician Maggie Ryan returns to her alma mater to help Charlie Fielding analyze his reading research. Charlie, professor and film buff, is studying the eye movements of skilled readers. Maggie’s work is interesting, her kids have good daycare, and her actor husband Nick O’Connor is working nearby. But the happy summer plan is disrupted when Charlie’s popular colleague and rival, Tal Chandler, is found shot near campus.
When a turf war between town homicide detectives and image-conscious campus police hinders the investigation, Maggie and Nick team up with Tal’s grieving widow to get some questions answered.

Don't Miss These Great Reviews:

"Maggie is an engaging everywoman– wife, mother, professional– who conducts her crime-busting with quiet panache." — Margot Mifflin, Entertainment Weekly
"Thoroughly believable characters with depth and humor and finely realized senses of grief and anger. Carlson plays fair with the reader while making the unmasking of the criminal a surprise indeed." — Susan L. Clark, The Armchair Detective
"As usual, P.M. Carlson gives us a spell-binding, multidimensional puzzle, interesting background material, and fascinating and appealing characters." — Phyllis Brown, Grounds for Murder
​“[Maggie Ryan] has been a role model for women since the beginning and I loved watching her merge marriage and children with her talent for solving mysteries!” — Margaret Maron

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery
Published by: The Mystery Company / Crum Creek Press
Publication Date: August 2015
Number of Pages: 241
ISBN13: 1932325468 (ISBN13: 9781932325461)
Series: Maggie Ryan and Nick O'Connor #7
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Smashwords  | Goodreads 

"Murder Misread" by P.M. Carlson, the Maggie Ryan Mystery #7

Statistician Maggie Ryan, actor Nick O’Connor, and their two small children are looking forward to a relaxing summer away from New York City. Maggie’s working at her alma mater as consultant to reading expert Professor Charlie Fielding, and Nick has a gig at a summer theatre nearby. But then the body of Charlie’s retired predecessor, Professor Tal Chandler, is found near campus. It seems to be suicide–– but the gun was in left-handed Tal’s right hand. With help from Tal’s grieving widow, Professor Anne Chandler, Maggie and Nick find that friendly, nosy Tal had uncovered some dark secrets about his university coworkers––secrets that could lead to murder.

Read an excerpt:

Sunlight sifted through the trees. The creek giggled below. A little child galloped down the path, paused to pick up a pebble from the mud, ran back to her smiling mother. They moved on past, until their happy chatter merged into the rustling of the leaves.
A sweet day for a murder.
***
To get to Plato’s for Tal’s celebration, they had to cross the gorge. Maggie unhesitatingly chose the right path from among the several that meandered down into the wooded ravine. “I see you still know your way around,” Charlie observed.
“Yeah, it comes back. It was only seven years ago that I left. Which way do you prefer here?” Maggie paused at a fork in the trail, where one path led to a green-painted metal pedestrian bridge, and another wound lower and under the bridge along the edge of the little creek that had patiently carved out this gorge.
“The lower one’s prettier if you don’t mind steps. But it may be soggy still from the thunderstorm yesterday. I generally use this upper path.”
“Fine, let’s be prudent.” That warm Diane Keaton smile again as she turned toward the bridge. “I love this walk, don’t you?”
“Yes. I’m a hiker. You must miss the woods, living in New York.”
“Not as much as I expected. We’re only a block from Prospect Park, so we’ve got plenty of woods and meadows and ravines to explore.”
“Aren’t those big city parks dangerous?” He had to stretch to keep up with her athletic strides.
“Well, I don’t wander through them alone at night.” She hesitated, glancing at Charlie with an ambiguous smile. “Somebody did try to rape me once. But it wasn’t in Prospect Park. It was only a few miles from this very spot, when I was a student here.”
“God!” What could he say? What a horrible experience, to have someone forcing himself…. He mumbled inadequately, “That must have been terrible!”
“Yeah. Well, help arrived fast and we sent him up for ninety-nine years. Happy ending.” She didn’t sound happy, her shoulders hunching under the sky-blue cotton. “Anyway, I’ve learned to stay alert. Did you notice the guy under the bridge just now?”
Charlie looked back, frowning, and pushed his glasses up on his nose. The ravine was a visual crazy-quilt patched from dark earth, green leaves, splashes of sunlight. The original camouflage design, quivering as the breeze riffled the leaves. Below, the creek glinted; trunks and branches traced irregular dark lines through the trembling foliage. Nearer, the artificial pea-green of the bridge shafted straight-edged across the little chasm. “I don’t see anyone.”
“See where the trail widens? That muddy patch?”
“Yes. Oh!” He saw him then: standing nearly hidden by a clump of bushy young maples, only a bit of gray sleeve and a dark shoe visible from here. “Wonder what he’s up to?”
“In Prospect Park he’d probably be a bird-watcher,” Maggie said lightly, and turned back up the path toward College Avenue and Plato’s.
* * *
Excerpt from Murder Misread by P.M. Carlson. Copyright © 2017 by P.M. Carlson. Reproduced with permission from P.M. Carlson. All rights reserved.
P.M. Carlson

Author Bio:

P.M. Carlson taught psychology and statistics at Cornell University before deciding that mystery writing was more fun. She has published twelve mystery novels and over a dozen short stories. Her novels have been nominated for an Edgar Award, a Macavity Award, and twice for Anthony Awards. Two short stories were finalists for Agatha Awards. She edited the Mystery Writers Annual for Mystery Writers of America for several years, and served as president of Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With Our Author On: Website , Goodreads , Smashwords, & Twitter !

 

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