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Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior by Multiple Authors

Change Finds You

by Cara Michaels

“The date of record is October thirtieth, two-thousand-twelve. This is Special Agent Everett Benjamin.”

The voice drew my attention from the digital voice recorder resting on the table. The red recording light assured everyone observing that my words would be captured for all time, with “all time” defined as “until the Gemini Group buried the story”. At best, anything I said today would end up in a heavily redacted report buried in some government archive. Hadn’t stopped me from trying to get the word out, though. No, the FBI could take credit there. Getting nabbed at a convenience store just proved I’d never been intended for the undercover life. I’d only lasted two months on the official run.

“For the record, please state your name.” The special agent sitting across from me held an air of comfortable superiority. As homegrown investigative organizations rated, he still believed his FBI sat at the top of the food chain.

How sweet.

“Dr. Savannah Welborn.”

“Thank you, Doctor.” For a tough FBI guy, he had a nice voice. Kind of deep, kind of mellow.

The pen held between his index and middle fingers drummed an uneven, impatient beat. The air conditioning kicked on, a background hum of recycled air smelling faintly of paper and dust. Like the room needed to be colder. What brainless desk jockey thought hypothermia contributed to productivity? The beds of my fingernails had turned blue some fifteen minutes of waiting ago. My body had already forgotten how it felt to be warm. Inside, outside, and everywhere in between. I ground my teeth to hold in a shiver.

“Not a problem, Agent Benjamin,” I said. I even flashed my gritted teeth as I smiled. Just call me Doctor Cooperative.

His gaze slid over my Celldweller concert tee. Beneath the table, worn blue jeans allowed refrigerated air to sneak in at the torn knees. Like I needed his visual disdain to tell me I was way underdressed for a federal interrogation. They didn’t do anything without a tie or stockings.

At least my feet stayed warm in socks and sneakers.

“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t get apprehended in my Sunday best. I’ll try harder next time.”

His lips pinched, biting down on whatever he wanted to say and emphasizing his stern features. Add a sense of humor and strip away the premature aging of his job, and I put him in his early thirties, maybe. Salt dashed his black pepper hair, the cut military short.

“You understand why you’re here, yes?” he asked.

“I can play stupid if you’d prefer to explain it for the viewers at home.” I gestured to the large mirror dominating the end of the room on my left.

Benjamin clenched his teeth, let out a slow breath.

“You’ve been charged with obstruction of an ongoing investigation, as well as aiding and abetting the vigilante organization known as the Paladins.”

He made a good show of flipping through a manila folder stuffed with evidence. Of my so-called crimes, no doubt. My actions over the last several years tied me to the Paladins and — if one knew where to look — to the Gemini Group who had unintentionally created them. I’d built the Gemini Group, created the experiments, written the procedures. I’d documented its transition into a monster as the sons and daughters of my trial groups grew and revealed the changes in their genetic codes.

The cells made to save their parents had resulted in unexpected, even terrifying mutations. A woman with Ehler Danlos Syndrome gave birth to a daughter who could dislocate and reshape her bones and body at will. A man with early-onset Alzheimer’s fathered a child with eidetic memory. A treatment for severe hypothermia resulted in a son with extreme cold tolerance, who could manipulate the temperature around him, and even generate ice from the water in the air.

In short, my efforts to cure disease created superhumans.

But Karen Gemini, the reason any of my work had been possible, accused me of using her to play God.

She had it right, maybe. At least in the beginning.

Like a proud parent, I’d been thrilled by these gifted children. But like regular humans, they came in all shades of good, bad, and indifferent. Some made an effort to use their unique abilities to help the world around them. The public had taken to calling them the Paladins, and it suited them. Honorable, fierce, and steadfast in the face of a world turning on them.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Karen Gemini gathered the blackest souls to her bosom, a nightmare brood poised to unleash hell on earth.

The FBI and Agent Benjamin might not yet realize it, but the Paladins stood in the way of gathering darkness. And as the woman whose research had started all of this, I stood to shield the Paladins.

If Benjamin meant to intimidate me, he needed a new strategy.

Go ahead, Agent Benjamin. Take me down. This is so much bigger than you know.

“Dr. Welborn?” Benjamin’s gaze, his eyes an eerie amber-orange, fixed on me.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Did you want me to deny the allegations? For dramatic effect?”

He turned away, but not before I saw him grimace. Aw, did my attitude hurt his career advancement opportunities? Tough shit.

He needed to toughen up his poker face for this job.

I’d stepped into sharky waters with open eyes. I’d known the risks of siding with the Paladins. Of siding against Gemini.

I smiled.

He rolled his eyes, tension visible along his jaw. “Belligerent charm. Does that work for you often?”

“What do you want from me here, Agent?”

“Names. Aliases. Addresses. We want the Paladin operation.”

I laughed. Not a polite titter, but a snort of disbelief. “Sorry to say, but you’re doomed to disappointment.”

“Doctor—”

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Genre - Short Story Anthology

Rating – PG13 (some strong language)

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Review: Not a Whisper by Donna B McNicol

Not a WhisperNot a Whisper by Donna B. McNicol
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What I liked? The writing style. Each page has you guessing and you suspect everyone. For a minute, some of us felt that Cherie had some underlying issue which was directly related to the body count as well. Or even Jazz. You don't know anything for sure until you get to the ending.
Is the title a good one or a poor one and why? It fits the book perfectly. In a town where someone is always talking about someone else, "not a whisper" symbolizes what is happening behind the scenes without the knowledge of anyone in the town.
Did you like the way the story ended? Absolutely. It was twisted, surprising and it wasn't hanging as so many authors who do serials nowadays are prone to do. I also liked that each character received resolution and all questions throughout the book were answered so the reader doesn't go away with what ifs and maybes.

Disclosure - As a Quality Reads Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book from the author via Orangeberry Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

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Donna B. McNicol – Finding What Works

Finding What Works

by Donna B McNicol

When I started to get interested in fiction writing fifteen years ago, I bought every book I could find. I joined Writer’s Digest Book of the Month Club. I bought magazines. I joined forums and other online groups. The result? I spent more time reading and researching than I did writing.

When I decided to try my hand at fiction writing again in January 2012, I started down that same route. Joining online groups, buying Kindle versions of books about writing, chatting with other authors and ordering online magazines. It wasn’t long before I realized that I was falling into that same bottomless pit.

Then I ran into a group of writers who posted weekly flash fiction from several sites on their blogs. Could it be that easy? Just write and put it in my blog? Surely not. Even if I did manage to write something, could I possibly let someone else read it? I didn’t know anything about writing, did I?

I took baby steps, it was easy since almost no one read my writing blog yet. I wrote something I called “The Surprise”. I had a lot of followers of my personal blog and they were kind enough to read it and leave some positive comments.

Taking a deep breath, I tried it again. Umm, no comments. No surprise since I didn’t really like the story much myself. Then I found Lillie McFerrin’s “Five Sentence Fiction”. Each week we were given a word and a photo and had to write five sentences, no more.

Eureka – visuals! This is where I found what worked for me. Give me a photo and I can write forever. I continued to do flash fiction, often finding my own photo to represent the word, phrase or situation. Words flowed so much more easily.

When I decided to expand into writing a full novel, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I’d done so well with flash fiction, cutting my words to the bone, Slicing and dicing, no fat left. Could I manage to expand my words to 50,000 for Camp NaNoWriMo?

Once again, I fell back on what worked for me – visuals. I found photos for the location of the book, then I went searching for photos that showed me what I wanted my characters to look like. I started a board on Pinterest and pinned them all up there.

Next hurdle, where to write? Since I had a deadline, 50k words in 31 days, I knew I had to write almost every day for hours. Working from home was difficult, too many distractions so I packed up my new ultra-portable and headed to the local McDonalds. It worked!

The key here is to find what works for YOU, what helps you be creative, what helps you be productive. It might be a corner of your dining room, a chair on the deck, a local cafe or in your office, if you have one. A favorite pen or pencil, I have a few, a special notebook or your computer. A word prompt, a photograph – take it and use it.

Now go write….

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre – Cozy Mystery

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with DB McNicol on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://donnamcnicol.com/

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The Darkest Lie by Angela Day

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CHAPTER 3

             "I bet he escaped from the psych ward," Remi mused, fascinated by Thane's story. "He sounds like one of those savants, people who can do one thing better than anyone else on the planet but lack in their connection to reality." 

              They were at his locker in the school hallway during lunch, two days after Thane's mad dash to catch the bus and lightning strike. Remi had been glad to see him and drawn out everything that had happened since he left school on Monday, and he'd just finished telling her about Brennan Tayler. "Here's your backpack, Flash," Remi said, smacking him in the chest with it. Thane gave her a quizzical look, and she colored. "He's a comic book guy. Wears all red, runs so fast he's hard to see."  Thane kept looking at her until she punched his arm. "Cool people like comic books."

              "Sure," Thane said, smiling a little. It felt good to be doing something normal after the last few days. He stretched the fingers of his right hand, thinking about the hospital and Brennan again. 

              Remi noticed. "Let me see it?" Thane held out his previously injured knuckles for her and she stared at them like a jeweler inspecting a diamond. "There's nothing here. No bruising, no swelling, nothing. Are you sure you even hurt it?"

              "Yeah," Thane answered. "It was broken. He fixed it."

              "I wonder why," Remi mused, reaching out and taking his hand in both of hers.  Thane stiffened, unsure, but Remi was too deep in her thoughts to notice. She rubbed his knuckles with her thumb, trying to feel for any inconsistency. Thane felt his face going red and was about to pull away when something inside his hand moved.

              Remi froze-- she'd felt it too. Their eyes met over his hand. "What is that?" she asked him. He shrugged, pulling his hand out of hers to look at it himself. He pushed his finger down in the space between his second and third knuckles, and felt that same something hard roll away. It was so small he never would have noticed it on his own. He pulled his hand up to his eyes, and Remi stood on tiptoe to get a closer look. They both leaned in, trying to see any evidence of what they were feeling under Thane's skin.

              The bell rang, startling them both. Thane and Remi realized their faces were only inches apart, and sprang back. Snickers around them in the hallway let them know their display had not gone unnoticed.

              "New girlfriend, Thane?" Ben called from a few lockers down. 

              "You could do better, new girl," Jeran said, flexing his muscles. "I could show you a lot more than that weak loser." Thane's face colored, but Jeran walked off laughing with his buddies. Jeran was an entitled prick, the star of the second worst football team in the state. He wasn't smart enough to be the quarterback but as a wide receiver, you only had to get the ball somewhere near him and he would catch it. Tall and muscular, girls flocked around him and grownups loved to talk to him. Thane wanted to punch him hard enough to make it impossible for him to smirk for at least a week.

              "Don't worry about those idiots," Remi started, but Thane spun around and left her behind. From the moment Mr. Hoffman introduced them, Thane had failed at his one cardinal rule. When he was with Remi everybody saw him.

              Thane was one of the first into the room. Ms. Rasmussen didn't look up as he entered, engrossed in some magazine. He managed to slide onto his stool in the back row without exciting note or comment from anyone. He took out his notebook and pretended to read it as the rest of the class arrived in twos and threes. 

              Remi's voice, laughing and chatting, stabbed his ear and he couldn't help glancing up. She was walking in with Jeran, smiling at him and shaking her head so that her dark hair bounced. As they came in, Ms. Rasmussen's attention was diverted by Remi's giggle and she smugly observed them. "Know your way around now, sweetie?" she asked Remi in a satisfied voice. Remi gave her a half smile, but did not respond. Jeran flashed Ms. Rasmussen a grin calculated to charm, then turned to Thane and transformed it into a self-satisfied smirk.

              "Thanks, Jeran," Remi said, and walked back to sit with Thane. Jeran's face darkened as she walked away.

              "I found your girlfriend lost in the hall," Jeran swaggered down the aisle towards him, voice dripping with false sympathy. "I told her you were unstable." Thane was clenching his teeth, jaw taunt, and Jeran bent down in his face. "It's okay, loser. If your dad doesn't wake up, I'll take care of your hot mom, too."

              Music blossomed in Thane's mind as his fist connected with Jeran's jaw. There was a crunch and a sizzle and the smell of burnt flesh as Jeran fell backwards and the second bell rang. Jeran landed on the floor, as surprised by the sucker punch as Thane was. Jeran sprang back up, blood in his mouth and rage in his eyes and oddly, a bright burn on his jaw. He moved at Thane.

              "That is enough, Jeran!" Ms. Rasmussen snapped. Jeran hesitated, and then lunged for Thane. Ms. Rasmussen grabbed Jeran's shoulder and spun him around, her eyes flashing and her breath quick. "Get out of my class." 

              "What?" Jeran was stunned. "But Cressa--"

              "You will call me Ms. Rasmussen. Go to the nurse's office, then the principal's.  Now." Her voice had gotten softer, colder, and somehow so dark that Thane repressed a chill.

              Jeran crumbled. He fled from the room, the door banging as he ran through it. Ms. Rasmussen came to stand in front of Thane and rested the tips of her fingers on his arm. "Aren't you a hero for defending your mother's honor like that!" She was sweet, but her green eyes glowed with something Thane didn't recognize. Greed? Insanity? She tugged at his arm a little, and he stood up. "Why don't you come up here and take Jeran's seat? He won't be needing it."

              Thane obediently gathered his things and went with her to the front. Remi followed him. Ms. Rasmussen seemed delighted. She even clapped her hands to get the attention of the class, which was completely unnecessary as every eye was already on her.  

              "Change of plans today, everyone! We're going to be doing hands-on experiments instead of a quiz." Her announcement brightened the feeling in the room considerably. "Put away your books and keep out your notepads. You'll need to take good notes. Every team will need a Bunsen burner, a holding tray, one five hundred milliliter beaker, one hundred milliliter beaker, safety glasses for each of you, a thermometer, and a pair of tongs. We're going to talk about thermodynamics!" She seemed gleeful, as manic as Thane had ever seen her.  

              Thane got up and gathered the implements since Remi wouldn't know where they were. He felt awful for ditching her in the hall. Carefully holding as many of the implements as he could in his arms, he set them down gently on the table in front of Remi and spread them out. 

              "I stole his playbook," Remi whispered. Thane attached the Bunsen burner to the short tube that rose out of the center of their rectangular table. "I thought we could do some creative play changing."

              A rush of gratitude warmed Thane. Having a friend had perks. Ms. Rasmussen continued to give instructions.  "...and be sure, girls, to keep your hair away from the flames. I'll be around to make sure that the gas lines are connected. Place the holding tray about six inches above the flame and fill the larger beaker with water from the sink..." Remi grabbed the larger beaker and followed the line of students back to the sink. Soon all the students had their beaker of water in place on the holding tray and were turning the burners on, seeing the waving yellow and orange flame tighten into a straight blue and purple one. "Open the air hole to only about half, we don't want it fully on. We're just heating water."

              The lean, tall woman walked around the classroom checking each burner to ensure that the gas lines were attached correctly and the flames were high and hot enough. She came to Thane and Remi, bending to peer closely at their set up. "I think you need to lower your holding tray slightly," she instructed, and Thane made the adjustment. The corner of Ms. Rasmussen's mouth twitched, and then she moved on.

              Her foot slipped, the thin heel shooting into the air, and she flailed her arms. With one hand she grabbed the side of a table, and the other grabbed Thane's left arm, pulling his wrist directly across the open flame.

              "Argh!" Thane grunted, jerking his hand back. There was a shiny red mark along the underside of his wrist as wide as two fingers. He stared at it as his teacher regained her balance and turned to him.

              "Oh, Thane, I'm so sorry," she gushed. "Someone spilled some water on the floor and I slipped! Let me see it," and she jerked his arm towards her. Her green eyes studied the red welt for a slow heartbeat, and she appeared... pleased. But only for a moment. Her face was full of concern and contrition when she looked back at him. "It's not badly burned. Run cold water over it. As for the rest of you," she whirled to face the class, her beautiful features twisted in fierce and dangerous anger, "be more careful. This could have been a serious accident. If you spill any liquid, clean it up immediately. I could've broken my ankle and poor Thane," she looked down at him and her tone quieted, "poor Thane could have lost his hand. Well," she said, her voice returning to normal, "back to work, everyone."

              As the flames burned and the students adjusted their safety glasses, Ms. Rasmussen pulled a box off the shelf behind her desk. It was dusty, and she smiled and held it for a moment. Then she wiped it off and placed it on her desk. "In this box I have several pieces of Field's Metal. Has anyone ever heard of it?" She paused, but no hands went up. "It is a most impressive alloy. It's a non-toxic mixture of bismuth, tin, and indium. There are many alloys that melt at low temperatures, even though the metals they are mixed from require much higher temperatures to melt in their pure form. These low melting point metals are called fusible alloys."

              Several of the students were scribbling furiously, as Ms. Rasmussen was not writing on the board. Instead, her hands were resting on either side of the open box as she was intently watching the beaker and the flame in front of Remi and Thane. Remi was one of the desperate note takers-- Thane couldn't take his eyes away from the chemistry teacher, like a bird staring at a snake. His heart pounded against his chest and his palms felt sweaty. Something was wrong. 

              She reached her hand into the box and drew out what looked to be a silver straw. "Each of you will be given one of these Field's Metal wires. Place your thermometers into the water and the metal wire into your smaller empty beaker. Using the tongs, hold the smaller beaker partially submerged in the boiling water. Record at what temperature, both Fahrenheit and Celsius, the metal begins to melt. I will pass out molds to each team for you to pour your liquid metal into, and you will time how long it takes the metal to re-harden."

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – New Adult Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Connect with Angela Day on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://awriterbyday.com/

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The Survivors by Daniel Harvell

The Survivors

When seven strangers impossibly survive a horrific airplane crash, they find themselves changed in remarkable ways. The survivors are endowed with powers that defy explanation. Some are blessed. Some are cursed.

Going their separate ways, they adapt their extraordinary “gifts” to their ordinary lives. The results, however, aren’t always pretty — particularly when one of them engages in a killing spree. With little more to go on than the psychic link that they all share, the survivors seek out one another to uncover the murderer and bring him or her to justice.

The fireman, the grandmother, the psychiatric patient, the basketball player, the mute girl, the rich blonde, and the man in the wheelchair — they all have secrets worth hiding. They can’t trust each other. They can’t even trust themselves.

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Genre - Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Connect with Daniel Harvell on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://danielharvell.com

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Angela Brown – A Funny Thing Happened Along the Way to Publishing

A Funny Thing Happened Along the Way to Publishing

by Angela Brown

You see, I had this awesome story. Okay, so it was very awesome to me (still is!) It was a Hunger Games inspired kind of thing following the selection theme. No kids killing each other (I know that’s the part everyone squees over but it sorta made my stomach turn over a few times at the inhumanity of it all…and yes, I LURVE THG!)

For my novel, I pulled in urban fantasy elements of vampires, the fae and a couple other undead in my dystopian corner of the world. Of course, I had to have a friends-to-lovers element.

While I was revising it, editing it and losing lots of sleep behind this story, the 2012 A to Z Blogging Challenge was coming up. I wanted to do a theme for it and had been obsessing – erm – enjoying Adele’s “Set fire to the rain” on serious repeat in my car. I think my daughter even got a chance to memorize the lyrics lol! Thoughts of secrets and hell swirled around in my mind, giving birth to a pair of damaged teens hiding secrets from each other though deeply in love with one another.

What started as daily posts for the challenge grew and took a life of its own, becoming the Abby and Basil blog opera. Readers left wonderfully encouraging comments, even to the point of asking when the novel would be published.

Uh…published?

A novel?

No, um, see, I got this other story that I’m working on that you guys are going to love once I go through tons of rejection from agents and publishers, luck up on an agent that loves the story as much as I do, then get an editor that loves it and yeah…then you’ll get THAT published novel.

But Abby and Basil refused to be denied. By the end of the blogging challenge, a novel had been born, one I never planned, never knew was in me…one I chose to self-publish and call Neverlove.

See, that’s the funny thing that happened. The unexpected leaped in with a change of plans. By now, I expected to be in the middle of a tub of Rocky Road ice cream lamenting my umpteenth rejection for my YA urban fantasy dystopian, you know, paying my dues, earning my rejection stripes. Instead, a different story, Neverlove, is out in the world. A new series is started, one I’m thrilled to share with readers and hope readers will enjoy consuming as much as I enjoyed mixing heaven and hell, love and hate, good and evil, pain and healing into a recipe of YA paranormal with elements of romance and action woven throughout.

*Just as a note, I’m still going to try and get the other novel out. Got the tub of Rocky Road on standby to munch on behind the rejections.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – YA Paranormal Romance

Rating – PG13

More details about the author

Connect with Angela Brown on Facebook & Twitter

Blog http://publishness.blogspot.com/

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Death Ain't But A Word: A Supernatural Hot Mess - Zander Marks

Death Ain’t But A Word - Zander Marks

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Urban Fantasy

Rating -  PG13

4.4 (29 reviews)

Free until 31 July 2013

Just because Wilkin's a crackhead doesn't mean the shadows aren't real.
They're real. And they've been haunting him since he was seven years old. Mostly he ignores them.
But when the ghost of his best friend from childhood shows up at the local motel, Wilkin can't ignore the call of friendship. And when his friend's killer buys the motel so he can destroy the remains, Wilkin can't ignore that, either.
Wilkin steals his friend's skull before the killer can destroy it and is plunged into a hot mess of a supernatural thrill ride.
A death-race pursuit of a child's skull. A spirit-whispering trucker hauling plush toys to Kansas. Five demonic farm-kids in a housing project. A Dodge City marshal who executes wayward ghosts. A nasty yellow jersey that takes the joy out of living. And a graveyard full of snitches.
It's enough to make you want to hit the crackpipe. All leading to a climax where staying alive is the least of Wilkin's worries.
Because when most of the people around you are spirits anyway, DEATH AIN'T BUT A WORD.

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Orangeberry Book of the Day – The Blackout by Stephanie Erickson

5.

The next morning Molly got up and went to class, prepared to hear the groans from her Modern Poetry class for their late papers.  She usually punished them with half a letter grade for every class they were late, but she wasn’t sure what to do to compensate for her own lateness.  She thought if she could come up with a few options, like having class in the garden one day or letting them pick the next poem to discuss, and let them choose, they’d be happy. 

Her other classes held better prospects.  She was excited because the day brought discussions about Gulliver’s Travels in British Literature, and The Poisonwood Bible in Modern Fiction.  Save for the groaning from Modern Poetry, she expected it to be a pretty good day. 

It happened in the middle of Modern Fiction.  A student had asked what point Kingsolver was trying to make by sacrificing the family’s youngest child. 

“What could possibly be worth killing such an innocent character?” she asked.

“Well, what do you think?  Do you think the father is so taken by his ‘mission’ to ‘save’ the heathens in the Congo that his youngest is a fair sacrifice, as you put it?  What’s one life if it saves a handful of others?”   Molly had just said it to spur the discussion.  She often made extreme statements in class just to stir the pot and get a good discussion going.

She sat cross-legged on top of her desk looking at the rows of students as hands shot into the air.  She smiled and surveyed their faces.  Their expressions ranged from angry to mischievous.  Molly picked one that seemed undecided.  “Mia, what do you think?”

Before she could answer, the lights went out.  It wasn’t really all that dark, because the back wall had several windows on it, and for that she was thankful. 

“Um…OK.  Just a second here, let me poke my head into the hall and see if I can find out what the deal is,” Molly said as she got down off the desk.

The students whispered to each other as she walked to the door.  “Settle down.  I’m sure it’s just a power surge, and it’ll be back on before I can even find out what happened.” 

“My phone doesn’t work.  Does yours?”  A boy in the front row asked his neighbor.

It caught Molly’s attention.  “Is your battery dead?” she asked.

“No.  I left home with a full charge.” 

Other students began retrieving their phones.  The consensus was unanimous.  No one’s phone worked.  Molly took her phone out of her pocket to see, and to her surprise, it displayed nothing but a black screen. 

She frowned and continued on her journey to the door.  “I’ll find out what’s going on.  Just stay calm,” Molly assured them.  They all looked worried.

Teachers were beginning to poke their heads out of their doors, making similar inquiries about the outage.  No one seemed to know what was going on.  Normally, there would be an announcement or some sort of directive about what to do, but they’d never encountered this type of outage before. 

Molly ran to her office to grab her laptop and returned to the classroom.  By then the kids were getting a little panicky, letting their imaginations run away with them. 

“Why would the power and our phones be out?  What could possibly cause something like that?”

“How long do you think it’ll be out?”

“My mom said she thinks the apocalypse is coming.  She said the signs are all there.”

Another student burst out laughing.  “Your mom is crazy.”

Molly interrupted before a fight could break out.  “OK, enough.  The power will probably be back on soon.  The school has an emergency generator that should kick in any minute now.  Just let me get my laptop going, and I’ll see if I can get some information about it.”

“Dr. Bonham, if the power’s out, will you be able to get online?”

By then, Molly had already gotten her computer out and was trying to get it powered up.  “Oh, that’s a good point.  Probably not.” 

Then she noticed nothing was happening with her computer.  She held the power button down, with no response.  She waited a few moments and tried again.  Still nothing. 

“What on Earth…” Molly muttered.

“What’s wrong?” 

“Um…I’m not sure.  I can’t get my computer to come on.” 

“What should we do?  Can we go home?”

“I don’t know about that either.  The stairwells are dark, I don’t want there to be a stampede.  Just give me a minute to think about the options.” 

They weren’t prepared for something like this.  They knew exactly what to do for a tornado, a fire alarm, or an earthquake.  But this was new territory. 

There really was no reason not to continue with class.  The only things they were using were the lights, and it was plenty bright enough to continue the discussion without them.  However, the kids were rattled, and quite frankly so was Molly.  Continuing with the discussion seemed fruitless, but leaving right this second wasn’t a good option either. She didn’t want to put the students in an unsafe situation. 

“Let me run back to the department head’s office and see what he thinks.  You guys wait here until I get back, OK?”  Molly looked at them all, seeing the panic starting to bubble up.  “I mean it,” she said sternly.  She thought giving them a task, even if it was just sitting still, would help occupy their minds.

Molly caught up with Terry Longman in the hallway.  She looked at him and shrugged.  “Now what?” she asked.

His normally disheveled appearance looked a little more unruly in his stress.  His grey hair stood straight out and his tweed coat hung unevenly.  “I have no idea.  I’m telling the kids and teachers to stay put for now.  There are no lights in the stairwells, and I don’t want anyone getting trampled.  Let’s wait twenty minutes or so and see if it comes back.  If it doesn’t, we’ll let the classes go one room at a time to prevent a stampede.  So, since your class is at the far end of the building, they may be here a while.”

“No problem.  Just keep me posted.”

Molly stopped in Cindy’s room, knowing she had a rowdy group this time of day.  They were arguing with her about getting to leave.

“HEY!”  Molly hollered to get their attention.  They were immediately quiet.  “This is a professional environment, not a middle school.  Arguing is not tolerated.  You will stay put until Dr. Longman says you can go.  He’s making his rounds now, and he’s said if power is not restored in another twenty minutes or so, he will let everyone go home.  However, he doesn’t want any misconduct, so he’ll be letting classes go one room at a time.  Just sit tight.”

A unified groan went up.  “Hey, you’re supposed to be in this class right now anyway!  I don’t want to hear your complaints,” Molly said.

“Yeah, well I’m not sitting here any longer than I have to.  Class gets out at three, and I’m out of here at three,” declared an older student, dressed in black jeans and a black t-shirt.  It was obvious that his silver chains, piercings, and long hair were meant to intimidate.  Molly was unfazed.

“You’ll do whatever the head of the department says you’ll do.  No questions about it.  This is considered an emergency situation, and for your own safety and the safety of others, you’ll stay put for now.  We’re not keeping you here forever, so just relax.” 

Cindy had that deer-in-headlights look.  Molly turned and put her hand on Cindy’s upper arm.  “Hey, straighten up.  These kids’ll eat you alive if you let them.  Don’t.  Terry said he’ll be letting classes go one at a time if the power’s not back in twenty minutes.  The process shouldn’t take too long, since there’s about ten rooms downstairs and ten up here, so just hold the fort for maybe an hour tops, OK?”

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Genre – Adult Fiction / Contemporary

Rating – PG13 (some strong language)

More details about the author & the book

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Website http://stephanieerickson.weebly.com/

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Dogs Aren’t Men by Billi Tiner

Dog's Aren't Men

A contemporary romance.

Rebecca Miller is a gifted veterinarian with an extraordinary understanding of animal behavior. She is leading a fulfilling life as the owner and operator of the Animal Friends Veterinary Clinic. Ever since her 30th birthday, her mother has made it her mission to help Rebecca find a man, get married, and give her grandchildren. But Rebecca doesn’t see the need for a man in her life. She has her dog, Captain, and that’s all the companionship she needs. However, her world changes the day she literally runs into Derrick Peterson, a gorgeously handsome ER doctor.

Derrick’s experiences with women have taught him that they are vain, silly, and untrustworthy. He keeps his relationships with them brief and superficial. However, he finds himself being irresistibly drawn to Rebecca. She’s smart, witty, compassionate, and very different from the women he usually encounters. Will Rebecca be the one to break down the wall he’s spent a lifetime building around his heart?

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Genre - Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG13

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Website http://www.tinerbooks.com/

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Marc DiGiacomo – What Bothers Me About Crime Fiction?

What bothers me about crime fiction?

by Marc DiGiacomo

Lots of things, but for starters, there is no such thing as a gun clip. There are hair clips, paper clips, even horse clips but there are no clips for guns. A magazine is the correct term to describe the bullet holder that enters the magazine well of a firearm. I cannot tell you how annoying this term is to a trained professional police officer or military personnel. It ranks amongst the worst incorrect descriptions for an inanimate object. Our countries leaders have all used this lingo to inaccurately describe gun magazines. But it’s not just them, others are guilty of this word misuse who should know better. Writers are investigators, they research a topic for correct information yet somehow it doesn’t end up accurately portrayed in their novels.

I often read crime stories by the most famous authors with great anticipation only to feel let down when I read something that is completely false. I understand the task of taking your reader on a journey throughout the book but not sticking to accurate police protocols absolutely annoys me. The story can still be exhilarating for the reader without injecting “Hollywood” nonsense into the story line. For me, this is the kiss of death; for the reader, they may not know any better but why fool them with false tactics and crime scene blunders. I really enjoy a good cop movie or show but can’t stand when the actor/actress pulls out their weapon with a finger already on the trigger. This is not how real cops do it. Or walking into a bloody crime scene with no paper booties on the bottom of their shoes, instantly contaminating a crime scene. This is not how the professionals do it and this is not the way authors should write it.

A properly informed reader will appreciate the law enforcement community even more for their service and maybe it will interest someone into choosing police work as a profession. The world will always need good people to become police officers and authors need to portray this heroic job as accurately as possible for the betterment of everyone.

I write what I know based on my experience and training. Since I’ve been retired I always confer with my colleagues when I am not sure about specifics. Besides they are good for new ideas especially since no two police calls are alike. Sure there are similarities but never does the same exact situation occur twice. This is one of the reasons I became a cop. The rush of adrenaline you experience responding to a high level call is second to none. Slapping handcuffs on someone who caused harm to the innocent is exhilarating. You really feel proud of your accomplishments and that next promotion is always around the corner. For me personally, all I ever wanted was to become a detective. That reality came to fruition and the investigations I was assigned to were everything I could have hoped for and more. Working for a small town has its limitations but working for an affluent community invites dirtbags. My superiors never let our town be victimized without justice. These were the best days of my life. But now they are just memories that pave the way for my novels.

So the next time you read a crime novel, pay attention to the author’s descriptions of police tactics. Watch how they describe investigating a crime scene. Are they wearing gloves while handling evidence? You can learn a lot from a book but let’s write police work as truthfully as possible.

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Genre – Thriller

Rating – R

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Summer Kindle Fire Giveaway

Kindle Summer

This is a joint AUTHOR & BLOGGER GIVEAWAY EVENT! Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HD 7".

Kindle Fire HD 7" Giveaway

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HD (US Only)

  Or $199 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)

  Or $199 in Paypal Cash (International)

 

Sponsoring Bloggers & Authors

  Giveaway Details 1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7" HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire. Sponsor a future Kindle Fire Giveaway by signing up HERE. Ends 8/15/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Nhys Glover – Characterisation: Getting Inside the Head of Your People

Characterisation: Getting Inside the Head of Your People

by Nhys Glover

Some people write whole biographies for their characters before they start writing. For me, I like to get to know the people as I go along, a bit like when we meet people in the real world. It’s the mystery that enchants me about writing and keeps me doing it. The ending it pretty much a given, as I write happy-ever-after Romance novels, so I have to have to be invested in how that’s going to happen.

The couple has to overcoming obstacles to be together. Some of those obstacles are internal, but as often or not, there are external ones as well. Because, for me, the external world is a reflection of the internal world.

Sometimes I get to a point in a story and think… ‘I need some exciting event to stir things up.’ In Lionslayer’s Woman, two of the protagonists were well on their way to achieving their goal: rescuing Galeria’s mother. But it felt too easy. When Nexus plans, he does a great job of it, and so there’s no tension in anticipating the outcome. So I needed a spanner. Galeria, in my head, put up her hand and said… ‘I could get in trouble. I don’t like the idea that we know another purge is going to take place and we’re not going to do anything about it. Maybe I get in trouble trying to stop the next one?’

So that’s the sort of thing I need. I know Galeria well enough by now. She’s a logical thinker, a Stoic philosopher, but she has the heart of a champion. My first introduction to her was when she rescued the other female heroine from rape by barging in to a pack of aroused men. If not for her muscular slave with a sharp sword she would have been in real trouble in that scene, so it’s no great stretch to see her going against her better judgement and ploughing in to try to save another Stoic family like her own.

But she’d not a fool. Going out alone into a strange city in the early hours of the morning is stupid. Therefore I had to see what rationale would make her do such a thing. So she’s sleep deprived, living off nervous energy because of her missing mother and the strain in her developing relationship with Nexus. She’s let her logic win so far, but her conscience is nagging at her over the Stoic family. When she’s finally decided to tell Nexus she wants to help them the next day, circumstance ups the ante. The attack is that night, in less than an hour. She has no time to think rationally, all she can do is act according to her personality.

I have to keep in mind that my people are not modern. My women often act as modern women would, (the reader needs to be able to relate to them,) but there is always a societal backlash associated with that. Galeria couldn’t do what she does if she’d been raised as a typical Roman patrician. She had to have a father who holds more liberal views, as the Stoics did. But her brother, who has just spent a year in the army, is more inculcated into Roman ethos, so he is the first one to condemn Galeria for her actions. He represents all of the mindless prejudices of the time.

For me, characterisation is always easy because I don’t think of my people as characters. To me, they’re as real, if not more real, than the people in my life. If I don’t get why they do something, I ask them. If my story needs ramping up, I ask them how to do it. I’m simply the facilitator of the story, I don’t come up it. My Muse prefers it that way.

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Genre – Historical Romance

Rating – PG

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Website http://nhysglover.com/

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Orangeberry Book of the Day – I’d Kill For You by Alan Plessinger

Chapter 2: A Detective, pursuing a lead not likely to produce significant results, comes upon a young girl needing to solve a certain mystery of her own, and upon interrogation finds her life to be not quite an open book, if not yet a fully closed one.

After reading and memorizing the case file that’d been faxed to the office, Riley grabbed the key to his residence for the night, the apartment of a lovely blonde secretary named Karen. He also grabbed his overnight bag with a few essentials. He left the office and took a cab out to her place in Tribeca, let himself in, and crept silently to her bedroom. A light was on. He eased open the door, and found that she had fallen asleep with the lamp on and a book in her hand, waiting for him. He took off his clothes as silently as possible, but not silently enough.

She woke up and asked what took him so long, but it was plain to see she had no real interest in the answer. He smiled, crawled across the bed, and kissed her.

When they were finished making love, Riley got up and took a shower, taking a moment to flush the condom down the toilet. After the shower he dried off and took a moment to use his beard-trimmer and then brush his teeth with his toothbrush from the overnight bag, things he liked to take care of at night. When he finished, he returned to the bedroom and sat naked on the bed, finally ready to get some sleep. Karen was lying there, looking at him, smiling, her arms and legs relaxed, her body contented. Before he could lie down, she crawled across the bed and hugged him.

“I’ve got some bad news, Riley,” she said, kissing him on the shoulder. “I’m taking myself out of the harem.”

“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that, Karen. Why?”

“I’m getting married.”

“Really? That’s great! Congratulations!”

“Thanks. I’m really sorry, honey, but you can’t stay. He’ll be here in a few hours for a breakfast date. You’ve got to be gone.”

Riley was a little taken aback by being thrown out unceremoniously, considering they’d just made love. But he didn’t want to be a nuisance.

“Couldn’t I get some sleep on the couch? I can be your cousin from Schenectady.”

“Honey, I’m marrying the guy who gave jealousy lessons to Othello. You can’t be anybody’s cousin.”

Riley sighed a little and said, “OK, Karen, if that’s the way you want it. I’m sure you two will be very happy together.”

“Thanks, honey. Let’s hope so. I’m not starting things out too well, I know. I should’ve stopped you. I should’ve told you about him, but I had to have one last little taste of the Riley.”

Riley had the unpleasant reaction most men would have, hearing the word little used in any context during pillow talk, but he didn’t complain.

“I take it you never told him about us?”

“Us? There is no ‘us,’ Riley. One day a month does not an ’us’ make.”

Riley smiled. She intended to enjoy dumping him, getting some of the power and control back for the first time in a long while. She continued.

“Honey, how long do you think you can go on this way? A lot of the girls in the harem are worried about you. You’re knocking on forty, you know.”

“Please don’t call it a harem. If you call it that, I might start calling it that. I started this arrangement because I was tired of everybody hating me for having a lot of sex with a lot of different women. I’m tired of being the bad guy. I don’t like people acting like I’m a predator. This way at least there’s no lying, and everybody knows where they stand.”

“Plus you don’t have to pay rent.”

“Yeah. That’s nice.”

“And when’s the last time you told any random woman about the arrangement?”

“I’m discreet.”

“Because you know any woman who hears about it is going to hate you.”

“I wish women could be a little more understanding about this. You’ve never had any cause to complain, have you?”

“Honey, I’ve been a part of the arrangement for more than two years now, and I look forward to the twenty-fifth of every month like a high holy day. You never disappoint. But I never kidded myself for a second that this was a real relationship. Don’t you want a real relationship? Don’t you want to get married one day?”

“I’ve never understood the point of marriage, at least for me. You’re getting married; you explain it to me. What is it for?”

“Lots of things. Companionship. Not dying alone.”

“Oh, what’s the big deal about dying alone? If a couple is married for fifty years, unless they die together in a car accident, at least one of them is going to die alone. Right?”

“So you really don’t ever want to get married?”

“I really don’t. I don’t even like dating. Seduction kind of bores me. I really think I don’t have any ability to fall in love. But maybe some day I’ll meet a woman who might change my mind. I don’t want to say it’s totally impossible. It might happen.”

“Not if you never date, it won’t. Honey, I’m not kidding. A lot of the girls are worried about you.”

“Do you all get together and talk about me, or something?”

“There’s a Web site.”

“Of course. Of course there is. Please don’t tell me the name.”

She kissed him on the shoulder again and said, “Your clothes are hanging up in the usual place, Riley.”

“Thanks. Your fiancé didn’t find them?”

“If he’s checking out the clothes in my closet, we’ve got worse problems than you. Forget the dry-cleaning bill, OK? It’s on the house.”

He stood, turned, and leaned down to kiss her good-bye on the lips, but she gave him her cheek.

“Denied!” he said.

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Genre – Murder / Mystery

Rating – R

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Geoff Nelder – 6 Tips for Becoming a Better Fiction Writer

6 Tips for Becoming a Better Fiction Writer

by Geoff Nelder

There is a necessary arrogance we have to endure when it comes to writers telling other folk how to become better at their craft. Anyone can write words and if you are skilled at talking in that you can hold an audience even if only at a coffee meeting, then presumably you can write well? You’d think so but over the years you pick up those techniques of writing to avoid and those to employ in order to win competitions and make reading your words a more enjoyable experience. Even so there is subjectivity here and you’ll notice my hand is in the air waving away to say that I have pet peeves and biases that will show.

I declare in advance that I am a short story competition judge and along with another judge, Dave Haslett, have written a short ebook on How to Win Short Story Competitions. Consequently, you are getting a free sample here!

1. Characters – You are already observant and so engage in people watching. Admit it, we’ve seen you. However, most of the people you see are ‘average’ and they shouldn’t populate your stories – well, perhaps one if you need a dullard to make others more exciting. You need to make each character distinct so don’t have too many. In a short story have one protagonist and maybe up to three others. More for novels. Each need to be slightly OTT than real life but not so much to be clowns – unless your story is about a circus! Think about TV soaps. All the characters in the memorable, long-lasting soaps have characters with a defining quirkiness about them. Do the same in your stories.

2. Dialogue tags have seen a transformation in recent years. Good writers always avoided the amateur pitfalls of using smiled as if it was a speech verb – eg ‘Hello Auntie,’ she smiled. Nooo. Also avoid laughed, grinned and snorted as dialogue tags. Your characters can do those things but not as a speech verb. Use said instead: it is invisible to readers. Now there is a trend to minimise said – this is well done by A.L. Kennedy but goes wrong with Phillipa Roberts’ The Other Boleyn Girl   It’s usually best to use a few saids if by leaving them out the reader is confused.

3. Avoiding weak modifiers. Many amateur writers follow their own behaviour patterns and so write things such as He almost fell off his chair, when it is far stronger to say He fell off his chair. (with the almost deleted) Go on, be bold and let the reader have the action! Ditto with weak modifier words such as nearly and slightly. Look through your narrative and see if you can remove them.

4. Use all the readers’ senses. I am particularly keen on this, as is the writing mentor, Sol Stein. To help the reader engage with the point of view (POV) owner or protagonist make them smell, touch, hear (other than speech), taste and see (such as colour) their surroundings. Examine your short stories. How many have no smell at all, or only one colour – and it is white!

5. Cut the pleonasms. This is a word, which if deleted, the meaning remains the same. Allan Guthrie wrote a famous paper entitled: Hunting Down the Pleonasms and he exampled it by cutting the word Down – the meaning remains the same. Go through your stories and cut pleonasms such as actually, even, and just. Expunge your thats!

6. Another tip from Allan to me personally and I believe this is the first time it has been published is after he edited the opening chapter of ARIA: Left Luggage. ‘Whenever I see nodded, a sigh or a shrug is sure to follow.’ He’s right!  We use those words because they convey a hundred words by describing a familiar action. That’s good, isn’t it? Well, in editors’ opinions they are so overused they’ve become clichés and so best worked around. Damn. Consequently, I rarely use them now.

I can’t promise that I obey those five tips in all my writing. Sometimes you need to break such ‘rules’ in order to control pace or to make a point. It’s a case that you can break the rules but you need to know them first.

How to Win Short Story Competitions by Dave Haslett and Geoff Nelder is at

http://www.amazon.com/How-Short-Story-Competitions-ebook/dp/B0083YRFI0/

ARIA: Left Luggage (without nods, shrugs and sighs) http://www.ll-publications.com/leftluggage.html

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Genre – Science Fiction / Medical Mystery

Rating – PG

More details about the author & the book

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Website http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/2426-geoff-nelder

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Orangeberry Book of the Day – Mars Rising by Mark David Major

1 At the Threshold of the Gate

The lieutenant retired to his quarters, removed his tunic, and tossed it across the arm of a chair. He threw his weary body down on the bunk. The collection of bones, ligaments, and tendons in his left knee made a cracking sound as he stretched out the lingering injury. A feeling of anxiety troubled him. He could not adopt the captain’s levity about the situation. The captain had played the role of a man on the brink of Vassalage for so long now that he was, under most circumstances, incapable of gravity. The lieutenant’s position was different. He was young, full of spirit, and most of his life was still before him. He had a lot to lose. He could not dismiss the dread he felt about an uncertain future clouded by civil war. For all he knew, Hande could make good on her boast to raise millions to oppose the Commander, whether through the utility of her foot or more practical means.
His eyes refused to embrace the serenity of sleep. He tried swallowing a sleep aid but it had no effect. His mind raced like a tornado in the lonesome prairie of his quarters. What had the prophecy about the Commander meant? The implications were disturbingly obvious. And because of this, and many other things, the lieutenant could not rest. The lights eventually rose to simulate daybreak within the artificial environment of the ship. The bright light caused the lieutenant’s eyes to momentarily water. An alarm sounded throughout the ship. The lieutenant quickly rose, threw on his tunic, and exited the quarters. He methodically proceeded through the metal corridors of the ship to the bridge. He entered and saw the captain was already there, standing erect among some of the crew gathered about him. The great armada had remained poised throughout the artificial night, holding its position just beyond the invisible boundary formed by the lunar orbit. Other soldiers soon pushed past the lieutenant onto the bridge. One could sense their eagerness, their desire for events to unfold however as they would, rather than continue to bear the strain of this static pause. A sense of anticipation afflicted every person on the bridge. It was reflective of the thoughts and emotions assaulting every member of the crew on every ship of the armada at that particular moment in the drama.

____________

The crackling sound of an incoming transmission caused everyone to turn towards the center of the bridge. They watched as the light of a hologram slowly flickered into existence, as if arriving from some faraway place and unknown time. The hologram materialized into a shape. It was the image of a woman, larger than life and towering over everyone. It seemed apparent this image was simultaneously appearing before everyone on every ship of the armada. The woman was almost painfully beautiful. Her skin was paler than normal for a human, her eyes were a lush dark green, and her lips narrow but inviting. About her shoulders spilled a mane of curly black hair, which miraculously appeared both unkempt and meticulously groomed. There was something eternal about the vision of womanhood before them. One could easily infer by her dress that she was a Marineris priestess. The sheer garment she wore displayed the nubile shape of her lithe body without revealing any details of the concealed flesh. The woman’s appearance silenced everyone. Now, the low rumbling of the engines powering the ship was the only thing that could be heard.

She raised her right hand to her face and, with her middle and forefinger extended, gracefully touched her forehead and then lowered her right hand to her heart, which she also touched, thus completing the accepted manner of greeting in Marineris ritual; tracing the ‘path of the spear’ from head to heart.

Once completed, she opened her mouth and began to sing. The melody she sang was of pure joy. A joy unlike any of them had ever experienced or even before dreamt. It was a very old song. She sang in a dialect long forgotten to most humans. The translation of the song was:

Exultation, lovely flame of God, Sons and daughters of Mars, We enter fire empowered, Heaven our reward!

Embracing that Destiny, Share your kiss among the stars, Brothers in arms and soul, A loving Father, your true north!

Can you sense this time, brothers! Seek salvation in the valley, Above the stars, you’ll dwell.

Embracing that Destiny, Share your kiss among the stars,
Sisters in arms and soul, A loving Mother, our constant!

Can you sense this time, sisters! Seek salvation in the valley, Above the stars, you’ll dwell. The priestess continued to sing by repeating these verses but then the chattering voices of the soldiers articulated thoughts into words. Phrases like ‘the Creator is with us’ and ‘the Holy Mother blesses our path’ escaped their lips. Another voice rose above the others, “Ran’s hand will strike down our enemies with the force of God!” Several of the soldiers fell to their knees in an almost violent manner to worship before the image of the priestess. The hologram slowly began to fade. The song also began to drift away. The lieutenant continued to watch until the last moment when the image at last vanished from their view. The vision of the woman dissolved into an electronic mist as if consumed in a cloud of smoke. Once the image had completely disappeared, an echo of the song hung briefly in the air. For a moment, many believed they could reach out and capture the dying embers of that song to prevent its escape. A few even reached out their hands in contemplation of the attempt but the song then faded into oblivion. There was silence.

The captain began to bellow orders. “The order is given! Proceed into the forbidden zone! Man your stations or get wherever you’re supposed to be!”

There was a moment of quiet and then the entire bridge burst into frenzied activity. Crew members returned their attention to the stations in front of them. Ordinary soldiers exited the bridge. All had now accepted their roles in the coming drama, each according to their own talents and beliefs. After the song of the priestess, it was clear the crew and soldiers were suddenly triumphant in their demeanor and determined in their purpose. The entire weight of the mighty armada slowly edged forward in united action. So began the fateful crossing of the Moon’s orbit into the forbidden zone around the birthplace of the Sovereignty. Ran had begun his thrust into the very womb of humanity.

The captain made his way across the bridge. He stood beside the lieutenant and whispered like a conspirator with a wry grin on his face. “Some trick of the Commander’s, I suspect.”

The lieutenant merely nodded his understanding.
Was it? Or were the mystics of the Marineris Sect intervening in this great drama on behalf of the Commander? Were they blessing the path he had dared to tread in pursuit of glory and honor?

____________

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Science Fiction

Rating – PG13

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Author Interview – Elvis Deane

What book should everybody read at least once? Peter Pan.  It’s magical and heartbreaking, telling truths in that final chapter that most children’s books never want to admit.

What do you hope your obituary will say about you? Died valiantly fighting a dragon.

How did you develop your writing? I was working towards being an animator and comic book artist, and so I concentrated a lot on dialogue and being efficient with words so as not to clutter a panel or have to lip sync a lot.  Then I took a novel writing class taught by Lynda Simmons hoping it would give me a better foundation for developing my comic book plots. Instead it made me want to write short stories and novels more than comics.

Where do you get your inspiration from? The strangest places.  A simple image of a cat on a ledge.  Hearing about someone’s night or a daydream they had.  Then I take a walk and let the pieces roll together in my mind.

What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing? Marketing.  You can pen a masterpiece, but without knowing how to get it into someone’s hands, it’ll languish on a shelf.  The Cuckoo’s Calling is a perfect example of something with critical acclaim that went nowhere until people found out J.K. Rowling was the author.

Do you find it hard to share your work? No.  There are times when I might want to leave the room while someone is reading my work, but I’m curious to hear comments. It’s how you grow.

Pistachio the Tyrant

Buy Now @ Amazon @ Smashwords

Genre - Children’s Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Website http://impossibilia.com/

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Orangeberry Free Alert - Transcender: First Time by Vicky Savage

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Transcender: First Time - Vicky Savage

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Fantasy

Rating - PG

4.6 (68 reviews)

Free until 25 July 2013

When a freak lightning storm turns terrifying, seventeen-year-old Jaden Beckett leaps for her life only to be glitched into an alternate universe. The destiny police want her out. Jaden's got other plans.
Ripped away from her quiet Connecticut life and dumped into a post-apocalyptic version of earth, Jaden lands smack in the middle of a kidnapping--her own!
Agent Ralston of the Inter-Universal Guidance Agency (IUGA) rescues her and helps her to assume a new identity. And what an amazing identity it is ...
In this world, she's Princess Jaden a member of the royal family of one of the three surviving nations. Plus, her mother's alive here--a miracle she never dreamed possible. If that weren't enough, she finds herself falling hard for Ryder Blackthorn, the half-Cherokee half-Irish outlaw who kidnapped her in the first place.
So, when IUGA finally gets its act together and is ready to send her home, Jaden's not budging. She's pretty sure Agent Ralston's been lying to her, and this whole thing isn't really a cosmic accident after all.
Can the powerful IUGA force her to leave? Or is Jaden what some in this strange land believe her to be--a Transcender with the ability to travel among alternate dimensions at will?

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Lee Harmon – What is a Liberal Christian?

What is a Liberal Christian?

by Lee Harmon

I write, in my books and on my blog, as a liberal Christian. But what the heck is a liberal Christian?

Traditional Christians become suspicious of the word “liberal.” Atheists object to the word “Christian.” And the liberal Christian hath not where to lay his head. But the truth is, the title doesn’t mean what either side assumes.

The word “liberal” should not be interpreted in the political sense. It refers, instead, merely to a willingness to dismiss biblical inerrancy. Liberal Christians tend to preach tolerance of other religions, discarding the assumption that the Bible provides the only pathway to the divine. L.C.’s think the Bible is a magnificent literary creation, but not quite the “Word of God.” The Bible is, instead, the story of a nation growing up and learning about God. It is full of various differing opinions and ideas and motives and is a human attempt to comprehend the divine.

So, in reality, traditional Christians should be objecting to the misuse of the word Christian, and atheists should be objecting to the misuse of the word liberal, right? Sigh. We L.C.’s can’t catch a break.

But here’s where I must make a confession. I said “liberal” shouldn’t be interpreted in the political sense, yet it’s sometimes hard for me to understand how a person could be both a Christian and a Republican. That is because of my complete and utter devotion to Christ.

Is your head spinning yet? How did liberal Christians get so screwed up? Let me explain.

A liberal Christian simply views Jesus differently than traditional Christians do. Our pluralism tends to decrease our trust in any particular life-after-death scenario, which results in backing away from any sort of afterlife-oriented religion. To L.C.’s, focusing on heaven or hell is completely missing the point of Jesus.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We L.C.’s think this prayer of Jesus is begging God to bring his kingdom down to earth; not rescue us up to heaven. We are more fascinated by the Historical Jesus quest, learning about the man who lived and died 2,000 years ago, than we are by the beliefs which evolved after his death. Jesus, we argue, was a passionate defender of a global dream; a dream which he felt certain held God’s approval. As would be normal in his setting, Jesus wrapped his humanitarian dream for the world in religious terms, calling it the Kingdom of God. He was making the claim that it was high time we humans took seriously the words of the prophets about a coming world where God reigned as king, and made it happen. In this dream world, all people would be equal, all people would be fed, all people would be respected.

So how do we make it happen? This is where we come back to the word “liberal,” with a confession that it probably describes L.C.’s more than we admit. There exists a great deal of controversy among Christians about gay rights and the gay lifestyle—it’s sort of the topic of the age—so I’ll use this example just to highlight liberal Christian thinking.

Yes, the Bible at least twice speaks out against homosexuality—in the Holiness Code of Leviticus, and in the letter of Paul to the Romans. But so what? Shouldn’t we be focusing more on Jesus than on a New Testament preacher who couldn’t seem to let go of a hurtful old law? How do we possibly inaugurate the new age Jesus wanted if we don’t continue to grow? Oops, there I go again, infuriating both the Christians and the atheists.

But at least now you know who I really am, in all my opinionated flaws!

Bible scholar and first-century historian Lee Harmon has written books about Revelation and John’s Gospel, and blogs at The Dubious Disciple.

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Genre – Religion / Christianity

Rating – G

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Connect with Lee Harmon on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.dubiousdisciple.com/

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Jacqueline Patricks – Truth and Accuracy: What’s the difference?

Truth and Accuracy: What’s the difference?

by Jacqueline Patricks

They’re the same right? Wrong; well at least not in my opinion. I’ve written professional medical reports for 20 years, been published in non-fiction, worked as a paid website content provider and written fiction for almost 30 years and I’ve learned that truth and accuracy can differ widely. Why does it matter?  What is truth to one person may not be so for another. While a statement or description may be true or based in truth, it may not be accurate to the specific item or event.

Truth is defined as: “conformity to knowledge, fact, actuality or logic” and accuracy is defined as:  “exactness, correctness”.  Sound similar, don’t they? But they can be viewed quite differently when details are important.

Example: The sky is blue. Is this a true statement? Of course, one can ask any random person and they would agree upon this universal truth. However, is that an accurate statement?  Perhaps. It can depend on current weather conditions, time of day, physical location, personal perception and many other variables.

So what, right? Truth versus accuracy, it’s close enough. Why bother being so specific? It’s all just words, just schematics. It matters because all human communication relies on statements to be both truthful and accurate. You can say the sky is blue but that statement is simple, limited and is unable to fully describe the richness of an evening sunset.

As a paramedic, if I were to document that a person is “sick” what useful information can a doctor or nurse garner from that statement? It may be true, but is it useful? How can the emergency department staff relay information that simple? Or worse, how do I explain myself to a judge should the worst case scenario occur? This is why medical and legal documents are so detailed. They need to be in order to cover all aspects of a situation, to avoid any misunderstanding.

Truthful, yet simple statements are not useful when dealing with the complexities of the real world. People are too intricate, too easily misunderstood or too willing to misunderstand. Even such a simple truth can be clouded by emotions of either the writer/speaker or the reader/receiver.

So how does this impact you as a writer? Think about your writing, the words you choose and how you describe things, people, emotions and sensory details. Are they true or accurate? Your story depends upon accuracy to create impact, which will in turn create readership. Accuracy in your work is the difference between ‘it felt hot’ and ‘as hot as a black car baking in the noonday sun’. Don’t write ‘dog’ when you can write ‘pit bull’. It creates an immediate and vivid picture in your reader’s mind.

The English language is varied. It possesses a plethora of perfect words to describe exactly what you want. Don’t settle for close enough. Perception is everything. If the majority of your readers have misunderstood your message, then you have failed as a writer. Be bold! Be clear! Be accurate! Use the right word for the right situation, and a new world of truth will be revealed to you.

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Genre – Science Fiction / Romance

Rating – R

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Connect with Jacqueline Patricks on Facebook

Website http://jacquelinepatricks.com/

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