September 2013


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

Posted on Monday, September 30, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dorian shrugged his shoulders “What was that about?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Lies Inside

Free until 30 September 2013

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Genre – YA Paranormal Romance

Rating – PG-13+

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The Benjamin Chronicles: Relativity by Matthew DiConti


Conal Benjamin never let the love of his life Abigail Bradley know of his romantic feelings for her. Years of living with that regret haunted Conals life and left him with an emptiness in his heart. In one serendipitous moment they are reunited at an alumni science exhibit giving Conal a second chance but in a cruel twist of fate Conal’s triggers an unexpected chain of events sending Abby and himself through a wormhole to 1888 Whitechapel, London, the time and place of one of the most horrifying serial killers in history, Jack the Ripper. With the time machine lost and Conal and Abby separated, the fate of both of their lives hang in the balance. Nothing is what it appears to be and it’s up to Conal to unravel the mysteries that await him, before it’s too late.

“I could not put this cleverly crafted paranormal fiction novel down. I can’t wait to go on the next time travel journey with Benjamin! It would make for a great TV Series/Feature Film. Out of 5 stars I give it 6!”   - Kelly V. Dolan, NBC News Radio

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Genre - Paranormal Fiction

Rating – NC17

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Meet the Author - Ted Olinger

Posted on Sunday, September 29, 2013

Is there a message in your stories that you want readers to grasp? Message no, but a way of seeing, yes. I try to create people and moments readers may recognize, but to show a hidden history or unexpected potential that can touch the reader and cause him to reconsider a first impression or long held assumption. If one can learn about the benefit of the doubt through fiction, I trust it will be applied in life. I am not sure I can explain it well. Perhaps that’s why I wrote the stories in the first place.

How much of the book is realistic? All of it, including the hallucinations.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? No. Most of the stories were inspired by some incident, or series of events, but none are autobiographical. That’s been a tough sell since all the stories are written in first person, but the narrator is as much a character as the fictional people he encounters in the stories. I have been asked more than once about “what really happened” to some character or other, and I’ve learned to be diplomatic instead of just saying it’s all made up. That never goes over well.

How important do you think villains are in a story? Essential if it’s a realistic story, if only because life offers such a variety of villainy that leaving it out would make it implausible. A villain doesn’t have to be a person, and there doesn’t have to be much of a given kind, again because there’s so much of it around. Villains also help reveal the hidden aspects of the other characters. In every genuine villain there is some broken humanity and how a character responds to that can turn him into a hero or villain himself.

What are your goals as a writer? To become good enough to write a book that recreates the feeling that made me want to write it. Or at least get closer than I am now. I don’t mind my reach exceeding my grasp, but I’d like to be able to reliably touch that goal with my fingertips.

What books have most influenced your life? This will sound terribly pedantic and I don’t mean it that way, but Alan Moorehead’s book, The Voyage of the Beagle, had a lasting effect on me. It is a nonfiction literary account of Darwin’s voyage that I read for a school assignment when I was eleven. I won’t pretend to be have been moved at that age by the exceptional writing Moorehead brought to bear, but the book had two lasting results. The first was that it opened my eyes to a universe of exploration overturning assumption, just as his voyage opened Darwin’s eyes. The second is that receiving that knowledge put me on a trajectory to encounter talented peers who became extremely gifted scientists and artists, people far more talented than I, whose company nevertheless has shone light on my own efforts. Our middle school friendships continue to this day. I have since then read everything Alan Moorehead published, including long and devastating depictions of the exploration of the White and the Blue Nile, the campaign at Gallipoli, the colonization of Australia, Cook’s impact on the Pacific, and Moorehead’s unforgettable trilogy of his years as a war correspondent from North Africa to Germany. He had a terrifically ironic, insightful, self-deprecating and direct style that even Hemingway admired. We know this because Hemingway flew Moorehead down to Cuba from New York for lunch so he could tell him. He also waved a telegram in his face from the editor of The New Yorker stating they couldn’t accept Hem’s latest because they needed space for a Moorehead piece on Venice. Must’ve been quite a lunch.

Who is your favorite author and why? Alice Munro. She sees the hidden connections between things and makes them visible, terrible and essential. Friend of My Youth would make Chekov bow to her.

What are your current writing projects now? I want to return to a novel I had to abandon some years ago when I took over care for my mom after my dad died rather suddenly. She had just been diagnosed with dementia. The eight years of trial that followed until her death will be a book all its own as well, but I don’t know what kind. I’ve started it as a memoir but parts of it are very difficult to confront. I touched on this theme a bit in some of the stories in The Woodpecker Menace, successfully I think, and I’m considering turning the memoir into a novel instead. I don’t know whether that will de-legitimize it, but if it makes the story less raw while retaining its importance that may be worth it.

Are you reading any interesting books at the moment? Travel books have intrigued me since I fell into a universe unknown with The Voyage of the Beagle. I am re-reading one now that I stumbled on for no reason some years ago called The Marsh Arabs published in 1961 by Wilfred Thesiger. I was chagrined to learn it is a classic in travel writing that I never heard of, but having read it now a few times I understand why it may be neglected in spite of its awards and acclaim. Thesiger grew up in British East Africa, received a classical English education, fought with the Special Air Service in North Africa and the Middle East in World War II, and then wandered the latitudes of his childhood for many of his remaining years. His photographs of those years, many of which are in this book, are housed in an Oxford museum. His voice is subtle, unassuming, and penetrating, as one would expect from a person who sought to understand a foreign culture by adopting it. Thesiger spent seven years in the marshes of southern Iraq exploring the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates with the local tribes, and his account is at once moving, clinical, and enthralling. It is all the more poignant too since Thesiger was prevented from returning in his eighth year when the tribes came under attack by the then new Ba’ath regime in Baghdad.

What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out? Access to writers and to thoughtful readers. This was always a problem in the past. One labored in obscurity for years and the only feedback was rejection from various publications. Now it is a simple matter of tracking down a writer’s group in your area, or online, and finding local open mics or nearby conferences. I have learned a lot from open mic readings, both about myself and other writers. I was reading a short story once and had about a page to go when I suddenly got a very big laugh and applause and I thought, ‘OK that’s the new ending,’ and stopped reading right there.

What contributes to making a writer successful? I’ll tell you when I get there.

Do you have any advice for writers? We hear all the time that writers should just write, write, write. But that’s less than half of what we need. The very best advice I’ve ever heard about starting out comes from Ira Glass who, to paraphrase, says the hardest part is reconciling one’s high expectations with one’s low skill at the beginning. He says, “We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work…It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” This resonated with me because it was my experience too. Of course, I wish I had heard it twenty years earlier.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers? Support your local independent bookstore. Really.

When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have? I would like to think I told a story worth telling.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Fiction / Short Stories 
Rating – PG13 
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Connect with Ted Olinger on Facebook


I, Walter by Mike Hartner

I Walter

Walter Crofter was born into Elizabethan England.
In a country and a time where favor and politics were both deadly, can an honest boy stay true to himself?
Especially given his family background?

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Genre - Historical Fiction/Romance

Rating – G

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Cleanse Fire by Anastasia V Pergakis


Pars IV

20th day of Solis Moon, 1364

Derac choked. "What?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What should we do?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Genre – Fantasy / Military

Rating – PG13

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Pelican Bay–Jesse Giles Christiansen

Posted on Saturday, September 28, 2013

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

Pelican Bay by Jesse Giles Christinsen

Amazon Kindle US

Genre – Mystery, Suspense

Rating – PG13

4.2 (29 reviews)

Free until 29 September 2013


The Way Home by Nhys Glover (Excerpt)



Hawk took another draw on his cigarette. It soothed his nerves to smoke. He’d come to it later than most. Before North Africa, he’d despised it for its smell and taste, but when nothing else would stop the shakes after a harrowing mission, smoking could. He’d smoked ever since.

Now he stood looking at the walled garden at Grange End and contemplated life. If the garden seemed to change subtly between each breath of smoke, he didn’t really notice. After all, how could evening turn to morning, morning to night, winter to spring, spring to autumn all in the time it took to smoke one cigarette? He didn’t even question being at Grange End even though he hadn’t been back to the wonderful old farmhouse since 1940, some four years ago.

He felt the prickles on the back of his neck and fought the urge to stiffen. He knew that warning sign. Someone was watching him. In the air, it meant there was an enemy pilot on his tail that he couldn’t see yet, probably above him. Here and now, it meant something different.

He brought his body around slowly, scanning his surroundings more stealthily. He saw nothing in the shadowed garden that was blooming with late summer foliage. How could that be? It was barely the end of spring, but from the look of the garden it appeared much later in the year. And the air was warm and heavy, like in North Africa. It was cold the last time he thought about it; so much so, that he’d considered getting his great coat if he planned to stay outside much longer.

His head swivelled around and then up. The watcher was always up. He’d seen people watching him from the house before. There had been a stocky young farmer who must have been one of Alf’s sons. Then Mildred had caught a glimpse of him and looked downright shocked. Before he had a chance to consider why she would be surprised to see him when he’d been invited here often enough, he’d let the thought go. Her face had faded from memory.

There had been more faces at the windows above… now that he thought about it. Alf, looking much older than he remembered, a young boy with bright red hair and a cheeky grin, a woman in her thirties who was dressed most peculiarly and then a younger woman… the sister of the one he’d seen before? She was a pretty girl in her early twenties, with brown hair and bright red cheeks. So many people watching him from the house – were they all visitors? He didn’t remember it being a party he was invited to. He’d thought he was the only one here besides the family.

The Way Home

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Genre - Historical  Romance

Rating – PG

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Harmless by Ernie Lindsey (Excerpt)


Let me share something about Clarence here.  I know, I know, I should just get on with it, tell you what happened in the living room, but this is important, and it’ll be relevant later.  I promise.

I actually talked to Clarence the night before Kerry died. 

Surprising?  Probably not.  Do I seem like the kind of guy that would be able to let things go?  Well, I am.  I don’t hold grudges.  They’re bad for your health.  Too much stress leads to an overproduction of a hormone called cortisol, which leads to an increase in abdominal fat.  The Pendragon Castle doesn’t need an extra layer of padded protection.  It’s defended well enough already by diet and exercise.  By compulsion, too, and I realize that can be an unattractive quality in a partner to someone who doesn’t share the same level of commitment.  Shayna had grown pudgy, likely due to a self-imposed level of stress that I couldn’t comprehend.  Kerry, not an ounce of fat on her.  We would’ve been a good match.

I was in the grocery store, picking up my weekly rations.  Lots of meats and vegetables for protein and general health, lots of legumes for caloric intake.  Try it sometime.  See how much fat you lose.

Anyway, Clarence, he had a pizza and a bottle of red wine, along with a stupid, confused look on his face, standing there over the expensive cheeses, like he didn’t have any synaptic connections happening inside that birdbrain of his.  I didn’t have one iota of sympathy for that guy at the time, but I decided to help him, mostly for the chance to scope him out, to see what he was like.  To see what kind of man was so warmly welcomed inside Kerry’s home. 

There had to be a reason, right? 

What did she see in him?  Unattractive, balding.  Goofball, in every sense of the word.  The likelihood of a giant, porn star schlong being the decided factor was completely out of the question.  I knew Kerry wouldn’t have been enticed by that—not on him.  You can put a pile of shit on a silver platter, but it’s still a pile of shit.

And money?  Did he have a lot of money?  Doubtful.  Not with that cheap suit.  Not with those discount bin loafers.  And certainly not based on the fact that wine and cheese pairings seemed to confuse him worse than handing a Rubik’s Cube to a blind man.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that sounds shallow—the fact that I immediately went to penis size or money as a reason.  But come on, you can’t tell me that neither of those things runs through your head when you see a ten with a two, no matter where they are.

Nobody admits it, everybody does it.

I had to know. 

Maybe he was funny.  Maybe he was smart (ha!) and challenging.  Maybe he could play the cello like Yo-Yo Ma and Kerry loved classical music. 

She didn’t, by the way.  Her speakers spoke volumes.  Pun intended, of course.  Due to Kerry’s taste in music, I’m now a fan of Justin Bieber.  What do they call his fans?  Beliebers?  As a forty-three-year-old male, I have no shame in confessing the kid has talent.

What in the almighty name of Eris (the Greek goddess of confusion, to the uninitiated) did Kerry see in him?

I absolutely had to know.

Big shocker here: our first meeting didn’t go well.

He insulted me with six little words.

Here’s how: the grocery store I frequent makes their employees dress up in black slacks, a white, collared shirt, and a red tie.  Why?  I would imagine it has something to do with an air of professionalism, which I support, but in the end they’re making their employees spend money on good clothes that will be ruined in a week. 

My opinion—since you asked—is that it’s more of a disservice to a hard-working guy who’s already scraping by on minimum wage.  It’s a waste of money and morale.  Give me a bagger wearing a cheap, blue polyester pullover, provided by the company who purchased it in bulk, at a massive discount cost, any day.  My steaks will taste the same. 

I’ve contemplated becoming a business consultant.  I see problems like this everywhere.

It just so happened that I’d decided to wear a similar outfit to Thrifty’s that day.  White shirt, dark slacks, crimson tie.  Not red, mind you.  Crimson. 

I could blame Clarence for his ignorance and be insulted by it if I wanted to, but I shouldn’t, because in hindsight, I looked like a valued team member. 

(That was on the application I filled out at the grocery store.  “Become a Valued Team Member!”  I didn’t get a second call.  The job-hunting paradox of being overqualified yet inexperienced perplexes me to this day.  And this is an assumption, but I’m sure they called Donny Row for a reference, even though I specifically marked the Do Not Call checkbox.)

As Clarence read the cheese labels, his lips moved.  Poor bastard.  It made me wonder if he’d have to take his socks off to count to twenty.

But like I said, I don’t judge.  It’s merely an observation, not a statement of fact.

I walked up beside him—“sidled” is a better word, since our shoulders were touching—and took a peek at the wine varietal he’d chosen.  A merlot.  Classic, but uninitiated.  (I’ve often wondered if the merlot industry suffered after Paul Giamatti’s outburst in Sideways.  His character was wrong—you can find some incredible merlots if you know what to look for.)

Clarence picked up an aged Chevrot, examining it with a befuddled expression, like he’d rubbed two pieces of flint together and set his hut on fire.

Casually, just a random guy making conversation, I said, “Probably not the best choice for that merlot.  They don’t go well with goat’s milk cheeses.  Your best bet is something made from sheep’s milk.  Try that one right there, the one with the blue label—the Roncal.”

It took a second for the realization to envelop his lone brain cell.  “Oh, hey, you’re Jan’s neighbor.  I didn’t know you worked here.”

First, note that he didn’t call her Kerry, which was bad enough, because he didn’t know her like I knew her.  The surreptitious, clueless infiltrator.  Also begging the question of, why had she lied to him, too?

Second… “I didn’t know you worked here.”

What.  The.  Hell.

I don’t know why I took such offense.  I have nothing against grocery store employees.  They work hard.  Eight, ten, twelve hours on your feet all day, bending over, picking up heavy things, dealing with picky customer demands such as making sure each vegetable type is individually bagged. 

That one’s on me.  Guilty.  I have this thing with vegetables.  None of them should ever, ever touch.  It makes shopping cumbersome because I have to carry at least fifteen bags with me, but I’ve gotten used to it.  The baggers that are familiar with my minor quirk have made a game out of it.  They’ll try to slip a squash in with a head of broccoli and laugh when I protest.  Joke’s on them, though, since I laugh, too.  I know it’s ridiculous, and I’m okay with it.  Shayna hated this about me.  Hated, hated, hated.  I believe the word she used was “psychotic,” which, again, is a matter of observation, not a statement of fact.

Most likely, it was simply in the way Clarence said it.  “I didn’t know you worked here,” as if it were some sort of punishment or comment on my character.

“You know what,” I said, “maybe you should go with the goat cheese.”  If screwing up his palate was my only recourse, then so be it.

“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.  My wife loves goat cheese.”

Did you get that?  His wife.

Let me repeat it: his wife, said without a hint of shame. 

Without a hint of, “Hey, don’t say anything, okay?  One wretch to another, let’s keep this between you and me.”

I tried not to sound offended.  Or shocked.  I’m not sure it worked.  “You’re married?

“Long story, but yeah, thirty-five years today.”

You want to know how many times in my life I’ve been struck speechless?


The first time was in response to the following:  “Steve, would you like to tell me about the thong I found in the backseat of your car?”

The second:  “Thirty-five years today.”

The nerve of that guy.  On a minor note, what kind of last-minute, procrastinating dirtball picks up a pizza and a bottle of wine for his thirty-five-year anniversary?

But more importantly you have to understand his tone.  There was nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, no hint of remorse whatsoever.  Nothing that said, I know you know.  I know you see me every Thursday.

It was absolutely baffling.

The only thing I could come up with, the only thing that seemed like a rational, adequate response was, “You’re a dick.” 

I walked away.  I hoped he took the goat cheese.

And later, when I learned the truth, guess who felt like a dick?




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Genre - Mystery/Suspense

Rating – PG13

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Hindsight by Owen Banner


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Very well, you have a good day."

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


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Genre –  Thriller

Rating – R

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Jack Canon’s American Destiny - Greg Sandora


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

Our job was to convince the American People.

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

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

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

Bio Energy sounds like something you flush.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sure, Honey.”

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

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

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

“We’re doing fine.”

“How’s the donor money flowing in?”

“Don’t worry, Joe, you got us cheap.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe was always snooping.

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

Joe’s laugh sounded forced. We said goodbye.

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

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

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

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

“Hey step in here a second.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re the wizard, Bud, great work.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Genre – Political Thriller

Rating – PG

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Children of the Knight by Michael J. Bowler

Posted on Friday, September 27, 2013

Children of the Knight

According to legend, King Arthur is supposed to return when Britain needs him most. So why does a man claiming to be the once and future king suddenly appear in Los Angeles?

This charismatic young Arthur creates a new Camelot within the City of Angels to lead a crusade of unwanted kids against an adult society that discards and ignores them. Under his banner of equality, every needy child is welcome, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or gang affiliation.

With the help of his amazing First Knight, homeless fourteen-year-old Lance, Arthur transforms this ragtag band of rejected children and teens into a well-trained army-the Children of the Knight. Through his intervention, they win the hearts and minds of the populace at large, and gain a truer understanding of themselves and their worth to society. But seeking more rights for kids pits Arthur and the children squarely against the rich, the influential, and the self-satisfied politicians who want nothing more than to maintain the status quo.

Can right truly overcome might? Arthur’s hopeful young knights are about to find out, and the City of Angels will never be the same.

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Genre – Edgy Young Adult

Rating – PG13

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How You Leave Texas by Alana Cash

She was late to work at Fastbinder’s Mortgage Company, and when she arrived, the atmosphere in the office felt charged. Something was up. The top managers were in an unscheduled conference call and no one knew why. No one was working, so Camille called her mother to thank her for the flowers that were already sitting on her desk.

“What do you and Walker have planned for tonight?” Elaine Morgan asked her daughter.

Camille explained about the dinner.

“What is he getting you as a gift?”

“I don’t know, Mom. I’ve looked everywhere.”

“Well, have a wonderful time, honey,” her mom said.

It was ten o’clock when Camille got off the phone. The accounting department surprised her with a birthday cake, sang to her, and gave her the card they had all signed. Five minutes later, the managers were out of their meeting and everyone got canned by one loud announcement from the District Manager.

“We’re sorry to have to tell you that you are all let go.”  That is all that Camille would ever clearly remember.

The mortgage company was belly-up. Those few employees who were retained were being transferred to the Las Vegas branch. Everyone was in shock and had no time to express outrage or disappointment because they were told to pack up all of their personal belongings and exit the building immediately. Camille took the elevator down the four floors, amid grumblings from secretaries and mortgage brokers. What about our benefits?  I didn’t take all my vacation this year. Someone ought to blow up the building. I stole a printer.

Delia, the accounting manager, invited the department members to Edith’s Barbecue in South Austin where they took two tables on the small patio and drank steadily for hours, all except Camille, who never had more than two drinks anywhere, anytime. The group had a surreal feeling, like no one was quite awake. They broke up just before 2 p.m.

Camille hugged a few of her coworkers, especially Delia, who was her good friend. The two of them and Delia’s daughter, Lindsay, got together every Saturday morning to go garage-sale shopping and then have breakfast at Frankie’s Diner. Once, Camille had invited Delia and her husband, Paul, over on a Saturday night for dinner, but Walker didn’t make much of an effort to make either of them feel at home. Paul worked in construction as a carpenter. He didn’t play golf or go hunting. Didn’t vote republican.

In the parking lot, Delia said to Camille, “It’s time for us to start our coffee business.”

Camille and Delia had daydreamed for years about starting a portable coffee business. Just a little cart they could park on Congress Avenue to sell coffee in the mornings to people in a hurry to get to work.

“Yeah,” Camille said, feeling sad. “I’m going to miss seeing you every day.”

“That’s why we need to start our little business.”

As everyone else drove off, Camille sat in her car thinking about where she could learn how to make a cappuccino. She was sitting there an hour later, wondering how to ask Walker to cosign a loan to purchase a coffee cart, when she got a call from, Jana, the former receptionist at Fastbinder’s. Jana told her that Delia had run a red light on her way home and was killed in a collision. Jana explained that she was right behind Delia’s car, only she had stopped at the red light, and saw the whole thing.

Camille closed her cell phone without saying a word to Jana, and then said to no one, “Shut up.”

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Genre –  Women’s Fiction

Rating – PG13

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How To Find Your Vital Vocation by Brian Cormack Carr


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

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

Discovering What Makes You Tick

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

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

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

- Your memories

- Your future plans

- Your imagination

- Other people’s perceptions of you

- Your unconscious mind

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

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

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

EXERCISE 3: Journeying into the Past

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

Step 1

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

- Childhood

- Your teenage years

- Young adulthood

- Adulthood

- Middle age

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

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


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Genre –  NonFiction / Careers

Rating – G

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