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

Peter

Chapter 4

Portland, Oregon

October 22nd

Afternoon Hours

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

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

‘Hey, man! You daydreaming?’

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

‘Feel sick or something?’ he persisted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating – PG-13

More details about the author

Connect with  Ramz Artso on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://ramzartso.blogspot.com/

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LIFE LESSONS – Colin Falconer @colin_falconer

LIFE LESSONS

Colin Falconer

(Isabella – Braveheart of France)

There he goes.

Eighteen years old and really, he doesn’t have a clue. He has such grand dreams and none of them make any kind of sense.

He’s left school and got a job in an office in London. He hates it. The shortcut to the train station takes him through the local churchyard and this morning he has stopped to study the gravestones.

Some of them are mossy with age, others are relatively new. They all have one thing in common though; the people under them are all dead.

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photograph: Stonepapa

This kid – he isn’t even shaving on a regular basis yet – makes some quick calculations in his head. All these folk under the stones had a certain time allotted to them and when you add it up, it really doesn’t amount to much; and some of them, when you do the math, well it doesn’t add up to much at all.

So then and there he makes a decision. He is going to live a life quite different from his parents. He is going to quit his job and go to Morocco.

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photograph: Jerzy Strzelecki

He is going to stay there until his money runs out and then he is going to write a book and become a best-selling author. He promises himself he is going to love passionately, travel widely, and cram as much into his life as he can before he ends up just another stone in the ground …

Looking at me standing there in the churchyard as a sallow youth I am filled with a kind of poignant regard. I feel kinda sorry for him.

There’s so much I would like to tell him, but it’s too late now, and anyway, he wouldn’t have listened. But I am also quite proud of him; for despite all the spectacular screw ups he made, he stuck to his guns. I admire him for that.

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Hemingway: the closest I got was naming my pet parrot after him

But this is what I would like to have said to him:

Firstly son, I know that sometimes you ask yourself – Am I good enough? Well, let me reassure you on that one. No, you’re not.

You have talent, that’s all. Who hasn’t? Everyone has some kind of talent. But the point is this: it doesn’t matter that you’re not good enough now. You could be one day if you have the balls to persist, and if you are prepared to work at it. I mean really work. And that’s the same for everyone. So quit worrying.

Secondly – you’re absolutely right: we don’t have long down here. Hold on to that thought, it will stand you in good stead later when you come to make important decisions in your life.

Most of all, don’t worry about making mistakes. They are guaranteed. Even if I told you in advance the truly, unbelievably idiot things you are going to do, I know it won’t do any good.

But in the end, it’s only the times you did nothing that you’ll regret.

Hold onto your dreams. You’re going to find out soon enough that loving passionately is not as straightforward as you think and that travelling the world is not all palm-fringed sunsets and camel rides.

And this dream you have of writing a manuscript, sending it off and becoming instantly rich and famous; well, you’ll learn.

But don’t let life’s hard lessons make you bitter or cynical. Toughen up. Wise up. But don’t ever stop dreaming. Some days dreams come true.

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photograph: Aaron Escobar

What else should I tell him, do you think? I’m sure you can think of plenty of things I’ve missed. I just scratched the surface really. What would you have liked to have told yourself at eighteen?

Anyway, feel free. He won’t listen, of course. He’ll have to learn the hard way.

I guess that’s why they call them life lessons.

Isabella

She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel.

12 year old Isabella, a French princess marries the King of England – only to discover he has a terrible secret. Ten long years later she is in utter despair – does she submit to a lifetime of solitude and a spiritual death – or seize her destiny and take the throne of England for herself?

Isabella is just twelve years old when she marries Edward II of England. For the young princess it is love at first sight – but Edward has a terrible secret that threatens to tear their marriage – and England apart.

Who is Piers Gaveston – and why is his presence in the king’s court about to plunge England into civil war?

The young queen believes in the love songs of the troubadours and her own exalted destiny – but she finds reality very different. As she grows to a woman in the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, she must decide between her husband, her children, even her life – and one breath-taking gamble that will change the course of history.

This is the story of Isabella, the only woman ever to invade England – and win.

In the tradition of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick, ISABELLA is thoroughly researched and fast paced, the little known story of the one invasion the English never talk about.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Historical Fiction

Rating – PG-13

More details about the author and the book

Connect with Colin Falconer on Facebook & Twitter

Website https://colinfalconer.wordpress.com/

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#AmReading - Morning Glory by Sarah Jio @sarahjio

Morning Glory by Sarah Jio

Amazon

Fleeing an East Coast life marred by tragedy, Ada Santorini takes up residence on houseboat number seven on Boat Street. She discovers a trunk left behind by Penny Wentworth, a young newlywed who lived on the boat half a century earlier. Ada longs to know her predecessor’s fate, but little suspects that Penny’s mysterious past and her own clouded future are destined to converge.

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

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

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Justin Blaney – Successful Nonprofits are Founded on Experience @justinblaney

Successful Nonprofits are Founded on Experience and Unique Solutions

by Justin Blaney and Jon Bell

More people are starting nonprofits today than ever before.

Many founders are millennials with fresh ideas and limitless energy.

There are big upsides to this social explosion. Such a large number of engaged citizens is making a huge positive impact on the world. It’s a great time to work in the nonprofit sector because the huge influx of talent and energy can be used to fuel entirely new initiatives from the ground up in less time than ever.

But the downside is many of these young social entrepreneurs don’t have the experience necessary to accomplish their goals. They often don’t realize there may be others who are already addressing the issues they’re passionate about. And they may attempt to enter an existing marketplace without having a highly unique angle to address the problem they’re aiming to solve which can result in wasted resources and frustration.

If you’re a young social entrepreneur, here’s our advice.

Before staring a new social enterprise, search for existing nonprofits who are already doing great work in your area of interest. There are over 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States alone. Any problem that needs solving has likely already attracted thousands of nonprofits. And many of these nonprofits have been working on solving such problems for decades.

Rather than competing with those who are already doing the work, you should spend time mentoring under your future competition, learning which mistakes can be avoided and picking up a few leadership skills along the way.

You might think you have a unique way of addressing a problem and you might be right. But that problem will still be waiting for you a few years down the road. Take time to learn from those who have been doing this a while before wasting thousands of donor’s dollars making avoidable mistakes.

If you want to address education policy in Washington D.C., spend a few years as a public educator in an elementary school first. Volunteer at your church’s sunday school. Intern under a politician or activist. Gather experience from varied sources, then bring those experiences together as you craft your unique solution to the problem you want to solve.

You’re going after the same donors as 1.5 million other nonprofits, a nearly impossible task without a highly unique solution and experience. Rather than competing with other nonprofits in your area of interest, learn from them. Leverage their networks. Collaborate.

You might even try giving your ideas away. If another nonprofit uses your ideas, it affirms your talent and your vision. And, if your ideas are so good that other people are using them, you’re probably going to have a lot more good ideas in the years to come.

About the authors

Justin Blaney is the #1 bestselling author of Evan Burl and the Falling. He’s a blogger at JustinBlaney.com and I4J.org, the creator of Isfits, and a film producer with Inkliss. He lives outside Seattle with his wife and three daughters. Connect with Justin on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube.

Jon Bell is the director of Live58, an organization aiming to end poverty.

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More details about the author & the book

Connect with Justin Blaney on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.justinblaney.com/

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#AmReading - Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler @juliekibler

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Amazon

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler is a soaring debut interweaving the story of a heartbreaking, forbidden love in 1930s Kentucky with an unlikely modern-day friendship.

Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a favor to ask her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. It's a big one. Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drop everything to drive her from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no clear explanation why. Tomorrow.
Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious whether she can unlock the secrets of Isabelle's guarded past, scarcely hesitates before agreeing, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives.
Over the years, Dorrie and Isabelle have developed more than just a business relationship. They are friends. But Dorrie, fretting over the new man in her life and her teenage son's irresponsible choices, still wonders why Isabelle chose her.
Isabelle confesses that, as a willful teen in 1930s Kentucky, she fell deeply in love with Robert Prewitt, a would-be doctor and the black son of her family's housekeeper--in a town where blacks weren't allowed after dark. The tale of their forbidden relationship and its tragic consequences makes it clear Dorrie and Isabelle are headed for a gathering of the utmost importance and that the history of Isabelle's first and greatest love just might help Dorrie find her own way.

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Inspiration from Places – Rayne Hall @RayneHall

Inspiration from Places

Rayne Hall

“Where do you find your ideas?” people often ask me.

The truth is, I don’t find ideas. Ideas find me.

Like ghosts, they seek me out, haunt me, and don’t let go until the story is written.

My mind is like a revolving drum filled with hundreds of jigsaw pieces, each representing a story idea. Sometimes two or more pieces click together, and that’s when a story takes shape.

The location is often among the first jigsaw pieces to click. The setting lends atmosphere and determines the flavour of the story. Some of the places in my stories are real, others exist only in my imagination, while yet others are a blend of the real and the imagined.

Many of the stories in Thirty Scary Tales are inspired by the places where I have lived and travelled in Britain. I live in a small dilapidated town of former Victorian grandeur on the south coast of England, and if you know the region, you may recognise the landscapes that inspired some of the tales.

The southeast of England has many village churches from the Norman period and the Middle Ages, many of them in isolated locations, often surrounded by tilting, lichen-encrusted gravestones. To research Take Me To St. Roch’s I spent a night in one of those old cemeteries, taking notes about every flickering shadow and every creepy noise. I jotted down how the wooden gate creaked on unoiled hinges, how the gravel crunched under my steps, and how the twigs of the trees beckoned like skeleton fingers, withered and pale.

Locals know what a menace herring gulls can be, but well-meaning tourists always feed them leftovers from their fish&chips takeaway, and this encourages the birds to even more aggression. Like daring highwaymen, they swoop and rob anyone holding food. I live in a top floor flat near the seafront. Every morning, seagulls hammer their beaks on my windows as if trying to break the glass. Watching them gave me the idea for the Seagulls story.

Never Leave Me was the first horror story I ever wrote, a long time ago. Inspiration came from reading about the archaeological discovery of the mummified “Druid Prince” and from a visit to the wind-swept Yorkshire Moors.

When the tide is out, it’s possible to walk on the seabed below the chalk cliffs, across black boulders and rust-coloured shingle. The air smells of salt and seaweed. Waves swish and slurp across the shingle, and in the distance, seagulls squawk. On one side, the sea glints like a diamond-studded sheet, on the other, the steep cliffs tower like unassailable fortress walls, a sublime sight. But woe when the tide comes rolling in while you’re still on the seabed! With no accessible path for miles, you’ll be trapped between the rock face and the smashing waves. In Double Rainbows, I imagined this scenario. What happens if you realise you got the time wrong?

The ferocious force of wind and waves sometimes erodes the cliffs and breaks off whole sections. The first time I walked below Fairlight Cliffs, the sight made my throat constrict. A large chunk of the cliff had recently fallen, leaving houses half destroyed, half standing. From below, I could see the inside of living rooms and kitchens, still furnished, as if any moment the inhabitants would enter. For years, the sight haunted me, but I could not come up with a story. Then St Leonards Writers decided to write stories about a local area, the so-called America Ground. Around the same time, I revisited Hastings Castle, which was partially destroyed during a violent storm 1287 when part of the cliff on which it stood fell. The three places – Fairlight, Hastings Castle, America Ground – clicked together, and I placed my story Scruples during the 1287 storm.

I had long mulled over a ghost story idea, but could not bring it to life until the plot clicked with several places from my memory. I recalled the railway tunnel next to the station where I used to wait after school for the train home, its entrance gaping like a black, hungry mouth. This combined with memories of travels in Wales, of steep slopes, grey slate houses, and drizzling rain. The story Through the Tunnel is the result.

The Devil You Know started with the memory of a night I spent as a young woman on a platform at Richmond station, waiting for the morning train to take me home, trying to sleep while the cold from the metal bench seeped through my thin dress. I kept the bench but moved it to an imaginary railway station on the Kent-Sussex border. Many of the small railway stations these days are unstaffed most of the time, with the waiting rooms and toilets locked, and the help points are often out of order.

Many years ago, I joined a group of divers for a holiday in Dorset. I couldn’t dive – I still can’t – but I listened to them as they talked about their plans for the day, and discussed the adventures at the evening campfire. I wondered if a wreck could be haunted, and what would be the worst thing that could go wrong on a dive. The divers were eager to help me with their know-how. The resulting story was I Dived the Pandora, which has been published in several versions. The current version is set in Sussex.

The main idea for Four Bony Hands haunted me for many years. What if the events in a certain fairytale didn’t happen quite the way everyone believes? After several abandoned attempts, another jigsaw piece clicked: the place was a cosy interior, heated by a big oven, providing shelter from the cold weather, refuge from persecution, and sanctuary from evil. Although the story takes place indoors, you can imagine the pine and oak woods surrounding the cottage, snow-laden like the Scottish forests in winter.

Beltane was my entry for a contest where each writer has twenty-four hours to create a complete story about a given topic. The theme was something about a blind fruit vendor and a young female customer. It was the first of May – the date of the traditional Celtic Beltane festival – and fresh green leaves and white blooms covered the trees, so I decided to set the story in ancient England in Celtic times. What did the blind vendor know that the girl did not? The story didn’t win, but I liked it, and a year later I wrote a more polished version.

Stone circles hold a deep fascination for me, and there are many of them in Britain. I’ve visited many stone circles, from the big ones like Avebury and Stonehenge to the ones which are so small they’re hard to spot among the bracken, from the major tourist attractions to the unknown ones, accessible only after a long hike, climbing across stiles and squeezing through thorny brambles. My favourites are the stone circles of Cornwall: Tregeseal, Merry Maidens, Boscawen-Un and all the others. Sometimes I would reach an out-of-the way place and discover that a previous visitor had left an offering, such as a posy of wildflowers, which always delighted me. On one occasion, though, I was disconcerted to find the offering was the flattened, fire-parched body of a frog. Readers familiar with Cornwall will recognise the landscape in the story Druid Stones and may even guess which circle was the fictional inspiration for the Dredhek Stones.

Burning was one of the most difficult stories I’ve ever written, and I believe it’s one of my best. Several places combined in my mind to form the inspiration. The first was a house on fire in the neighbourhood. My father forced me to watch it burn, even though at the age of seven I was upset and terrified. The second was also a house that burned out. This time, I did not witness the inferno, but I heard afterwards that the Turkish family who lived there had not been able to get out. Their charred skeletons told how they had cowered in the corner as the flames devoured them, and the father had shielded his daughters with his own body for as long as he could. This moved me deeply, and then I heard someone say “They were only Turks. Good riddance to the vermin.”

Later, I learnt about the atrocities committed against Jews during the Nazi period. In the town of my birth, locals burnt the synagogue and then built a church on that spot. In a nearby town, the eager citizens went even further: they locked the Jewish population into the synagogue before they set it on fire. The fire brigade, instead of putting out the flames, fanned and fed them, and made sure none of the Jews could escape. Much later, after the al-Qaeda bombings in London, a wave of burning hatred against Arabs swept through England, and it frightened me. Burning houses, churches, racial hatred, hypocrisy, a scared child witnessing events she cannot understand… these elements clicked together into a disturbing tale of human evil.

The story Only a Fool started with a real incident. As a young woman, I lived in London. One night I walked home from the Tube station when a drunken man attacked me, and I was saved by my wits and vivid imagination. For the story, I added memories of the many places where I had been nervous to walk alone, the kind of alley where shattered windows wink in the sparse light and footsteps echo as loud as your thudding heart.

I enjoy evoking the atmosphere of a place with the senses of sound, touch and smell.

My stories involve little violence. They are horror, but not of the slash-and-gore type with chainsaw massacres and lakes of blood. My brand of horror is of the suspenseful, creepy kind. Where other horror writers shock their readers with graphically mangled corpses, I tantalise mine with with places that ooze creepy atmosphere.

Thirty Scary Tales

Thirty creepy, atmospheric stories by Rayne Hall.

The horror in these stories is spooky, creepy, unsettling and sometimes disturbing. It is not very violent or gory; however, the stories may not be suitable for young readers without parental guidance. PG 13.

This book is a compilation of volumes 1-5 of the Six Scary Tales books. It includes the acclaimed stories Burning and The Bridge Chamber.

All stories have been previously published in magazines, ezines, collections and anthologies. British English.

Stories in collection include:
The Devil You Know, Greywalker, Prophetess, Each Stone A Life, By Your Own Free Will, The Bridge Chamber, Only A Fool, Four Bony Hands, The Black Boar, Double Rainbows, Druid Stones, Burning, Scruples, Seagulls, Night Train, Through the Tunnel, Black Karma, Take Me To St. Roch’s, Turkish Night, Never Leave Me, The Colour of Dishonour, Beltane, The Painted Staircase, I Dived The Pandora, Terre Vert and Payne’s Grey, They Say, Tuppence Special, Disturbed Sleep, Normal Considering the Weather, Arete.

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre – Horror

Rating – PG-13

More details about the author and the book

Connect with Rayne Hall on Twitter

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

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Indiestructible: Inspiring Stories from the Publishing Jungle @MsBessieBell

Tackling the Time Factor

by Jessica Bell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what about the rest?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s an example:

My job (at least 7 hours worth)

500-1000 words on my WIP

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

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

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

I made dinner.

I walked the dog.

I relaxed.

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

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

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

Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.

Nothing is impossible if you truly want it.

Nothing is impossible. Full stop.

Bio:

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

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

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

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

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Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre –  Non-fiction

Rating – G

More details about the author

Connect with Jessica Bell on FacebookTwitter

Blog http://thealliterativeallomorph.blogspot.com/

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

Diablo suddenly whips out his knife and flings it ninja-style at me. I duck and it hits the wooden beam behind me.

‘Ooooh!’ I cry shaking both my hands mockingly. ‘I’m in trooouble now! Biiiiga trooouble.’

‘Go gringa, go!’ some of the men cheer.

‘Whoookay!’ I say.

Diago stands up.

I stand up too and look him in the eye, my eyebrows disappearing behind my spiky fringe.

Breathing heavily, he creeps slowly to me, but I’m ready for him. I kick back my chair and sidle around, using the table as a barrier between us.

‘Watch him move, like a … eh, what you say for walrus in Spanish?’

The men laugh harder. Even Christa laughs.

‘You will farkin’ die!’ Diablo roars.

‘And who’s gonna farkin kill me, huh?’ I ask, dancing on the spot. ‘You?’ I throw my head back and laugh.

More laughter around me.

Diablo runs to his knife, grabs it off the beam and runs towards me.

But I’m already out of the villa and racing towards the cliff.

‘I’m going to kiiiill you!’ he yells as he chases me.

‘Fuck you, motherfucker!’ I scream over my shoulder and sprint ahead. I don’t care if he kills me, I just don’t want to be assaulted by him. He’s super strong and I stand no chance against him if he does. I’ve never seen him run before and I’m hoping he’s out of shape and slow. Well, the big lunch should make him sluggish.

But to my dismay, I can actually hear his breathing. I’m surprised at my slowness. Must be something to do with the booze. I have to admit, I didn’t realize how drunk I was until I started running. Too late now.

I run up the hill and through the dense foliage, passing startled villagers tending the cannabis crops. They stop and stare when they see Diablo chasing a gringa with a knife in his hand. Behind Diablo are his men, some on horseback and some on foot, not wanting to miss the moment Diablo finally kills the insolent Gringa.

‘Go, gringa go!’ I hear.

I run faster than I ever did in my life.

‘You will die!’ Diablo threatens behind me, still brandishing the knife. His breathing is getting louder and I know I have to do something.

The rock pool! I know for sure that Diablo is no match for me in the water. Very few people are. I head for the pool.

Changing route confuses Diablo and for a few moments, the gap between us increases, allowing me some respite.

I’m desperate to reach the rock pool so that I can shake the enraged animal behind me.

But to my dismay and my surprise, he catches me.

Link to Gringa:

http://www.amazon.com/Gringa-Modern-day-Love-Story-ebook/dp/B005CQBCJA\

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BOOK BLURB:

I was twenty-one, a sassy college student who took crap from no one. While holidaying in Mexico, I was accosted by The Devil of Mexico called Diablo and shot, because the s.o.b. mistook me for a spy.
I survived, only to encounter him again months later. How’s that for luck?
Furious and sick of all that I’d been through because of him, I slapped him, told him to go to hell and braced myself for the bullet. He could shoot me – I no longer cared.
But, to my surprise, he became fascinated with me and blackmailed me into becoming his woman. He’d slay the entire village that sheltered me, if I rejected his proposal.
He was Kong, hairy, tattooed from fingertips to face, with scary ass piercings, blood-shot snake eyes, a ruthless killer and above all, he was my murderer – how could anyone expect me to say yes?
To save the village I had to.
He took me by force, terrorized me into submission and made me his. To make matters worse, I had to put up with his ruthless, backstabbing family who hated me and wanted to kill me.
I despised the bastard and I told him that. Spark flew. Fists too.
But, the more I rejected Diablo, the more he wanted me.
At times he wanted to kill me because of my insolence, but other times he just wanted me to love him.
I was his Gringa and in an attempt to get my love, he began to change for me. Drastic changes that made me laugh at him at first, then made me curious.
As the days went by, I found myself drawn to him and I began seeing him differently. When I found out about his past, everything changed.

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Where to find Eve Rabi online

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Website: http://everabi.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/eve.rabi

Blog: http://everabi.wordpress.com/

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/everabiauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EveRabi1

LOVE STORIES BY EVE RABI

Deception – A Palace Full of Liars – Book 1

Deception – A Palace Full of Liars – Book 2

Burn’s World – Book 1

Burn’s World – Book 2

Burn’s World – Book 3

Burn’s World – Book 4

CAPTURED – My Sworn Enemy, My Secret Lover – Book 1

CAPTURED – My Sworn Enemy, My Secret Lover – Book 2

Gringa – A Love Story Book 1

Gringa – A Love Story Book 2

Gringa – A Love Story Book 3

Gringa – A Love Story Book 4

THE CHEAT – A Tale of Lies and Infidelity – Book 1

THE CHEAT – A Tale of Lies and Infidelity – Book 2

You Will Pay – For Leaving Me (This book is free to Eve Rabi Fans)

Obsessed with me –Book 1

Obsessed with me –Book 2

Betrayed – He’d get his Girl at Any Cost

My Brother, My Rival (Book 1)

My Brother, My Rival (Book 2)

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Breathing for Two by Wolf Pascoe @WolfPascoe

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

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Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Non-fiction / Memoir
Rating – G
More details about the author and the book
Connect with Wolf Pascoe on Facebook & Twitter

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J.L. Myers – Practical Advice for Beginning Fiction Writers @BloodBoundJLM

Practical Advice for Beginning Fiction (or other genre) Writers

I think writing in any form begins with an idea, a spark that makes you want to tell a story, whether it’s real or made up. Turning this spark into a novel takes genuine interest in the content and determination to turn your words into something someone else can someday read and enjoy. When I begin with a new idea I’ll jot down everything I can think of, which in the beginning usually isn’t too much, just a character with some detail and maybe a skeletal plot. Then I’ll ask myself Who? What? Where? Why? When?

In writing asking these questions it in a sentence can create amazing characters with depth, and stories that have you itching to get writing.

I know, I hear you saying, ‘How is asking who, what, where, why and when going to help me?’

Well I’ll tell you. Put into context of your flimsy character or skeletal plot asking questions can set off a bombs that starts and idea storm. Here are a few examples:

  • Who is my character and why are they the way they are?
  • What does my character want the most?
  • Why does my character want or need this?
  • Who stands in the way of my character getting what they want?
  • Where can my story happen to gain the most conflict?
  • What motivates my villain?
  • Where was my villain raised?
  • How did my villain’s upbringing affect who they’ve become?
  • Who stands in my villain’s way?
  • Why does my villain want to succeed?

As you can see, once you start asking questions the flow on keeps coming like word vomit, and the look you can get into your characters, their world, and their motives and pasts is and awesome tool to hash out your story’s details.

Once you have an idea of who your characters could be and what they want and need, you can start to figure out what actions they’ll need to take to achieve their goals.

What Lies Inside

Amelia Lamont never asked to unleash her inner vampire

Amelia’s normal teen world is shattered when a terrifying nightmare awakens the monster inside her. A newfound, insatiable thirst for blood that leads her to drain the school quarterback is only the beginning; she’s horrified to discover that her family and best friend Kendrick have been harboring the secret all along. And is the strangely alluring boy who seems hell-bent on curbing her murderous, blood-filled desires a friend, or foe?

To escape detection Amelia and her twin brother Dorian are forced to move to a new town, and the challenge of a new, exclusive high school where nearly every classmate smells like prey. Including the irresistible Ty, who seems hauntingly familiar, yet darkly menacing …

Amelia’s disturbing dreams and entanglement in a web of forbidden romance render her increasingly powerless against the chilling lies and secrets of vampire power struggles. And, as she soon discovers, vampire politics mixed with outlawed love can be a lethal cocktail.

Falling in love may just cost Amelia everything: her friends, her family…even her life

Move over Twilight, True Blood and Underworld! J.L. Myers’ first book in the Blood Bound series will have you swooning for more!

Warning – This book contains some language and sexual situations.

YA/ Vampire/ Paranormal Fiction

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – YA Paranormal Romance

Rating – PG-13+

More details about the author

Connect with  Jessica Myers on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://bloodboundnovels.com

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

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#AmReading - The Color War by Jodi Picoult @jodipicoult

The Color War by Jodi Picoult

Amazon

All Raymond wants to do is hang out with his best friend, Monroe, but life has other plans. This summer, his mother has decided to send him to Bible camp for inner-city kids. On the bus there, he dreams of the best night of his life, when he and Monroe slipped away from home and jumped the turnstiles to ride the subway to downtown Boston on New Year’s Eve. The elaborate ice sculptures on display thrilled them, especially an angel with outstretched wings that glowed ghostly in the night. Raymond wakes on the bus to what he takes for another angel: Melody, a camp counselor and lifeguard. Like all the staff, she’s white. Pretty, blond, and friendly, she’s the person Raymond most wants to impress during the Color War, the camp’s sports competition, and to whom he confesses his most painful secret, a loss that has made him grow up far too fast and left him wise beyond his mere nine years.
Will Raymond manage to connect to Melody—or anyone—when he’s so far from what he’s known and loved? Or will he discover that sometimes the road to hell is paved with good intentions? A searing look at race and what it means to survive our own color wars.

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The Howling Heart by April Bostic

* * * *

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

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

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

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

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Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Paranormal Romance

Rating – Adult

More details about the author & the book

Connect with April Bostic on Goodreads

Website http://www.aprilbostic.com/

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#AmReading - Hyde by Lauren Stewart @ReadLaurenS

Hyde by Lauren Stewart

Amazon

Honesty is impossible when you don't know the truth to begin with.
Mitchell Turner is everything women want most in a man--he's charismatic, successful, and undeniably gorgeous. But he's not a man--he's a monster. By venting his rage 24/7, Mitch keeps people out of the danger zone that surrounds him. But, after the most incredible night of his life, he realizes that might not be possible. Except the woman he wakes up with claims she doesn't remember any of it. And that kind of thing can make a guy insecure.
Eden Colfax is kind, loyal, honest to a fault, and cavity-inducing sweet. To rid herself of the monsters that haunted her broken childhood, Eden doesn't lie, doesn't curse, and definitely never wakes up naked in strangers' beds...until the day she does. Then the flashbacks start--places she's never been, people she's never met, blood she's never spilled. And the only person with any answers is a man she never wants to see again.
What they don't know is that someone is manipulating them, determined to find out exactly what they're capable of. And when the truth leaves them nothing to hold onto, they will be forced into a partnership neither expected. Or wanted.
But in life, who you trust is as important as who you are. And when you can't even trust yourself, sometimes the only person you can rely on is the last person on earth you should be falling for.

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Joyfully Yours by Amy Lamont @Amy_Lamont

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

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

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

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

“My pleasure.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joyfully Yours

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre - Contemporary Holiday Romance

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with Amy Lamont on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://amylamont.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Onio by Linell Jeppsen @nelj8

Chapter 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Onio revised (2)

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Genre – Fantasy/Romance

Rating – PG13

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Connect with Linell Jeppsen on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://neljeppsen.weebly.com/

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#Bargain Trans-Human by David Simpson @PostHuman09

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

Age Range: 12 years and up

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

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Genre - Science Fiction

Rating – PG

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Boundless by Brad Cotton @BradCott0n

Chapter 6

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

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

“Know what?”

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

“This again?”

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

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

“Really?”

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

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

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

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

Ray curled his head around the over-sized headrest.

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

“Unicorns?”

“No. Not unicorns.”

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

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

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

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

“You believe in God?” Ray asked.

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“I’m assuming you don’t?”

“Not for a second.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“The evidence against it is overwhelming.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A cat?”

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

“Pray on it,” Duncan said.

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

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

Duncan shook his head.

“Can we stop?” Ruby asked.

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

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

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

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

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

Boundless

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Genre – Contemporary Fiction/Literary Fiction

Rating – R

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Connect with Brad Cotton on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.bradcotton.com/

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Author Interview – Catherine Astolfo @cathyastolfo

What genre are you most comfortable writing? I consider myself a mystery writer, though my books are not classic mystery or crime. They don’t follow the rules of the genre, but they do have a puzzle to solve. I really deviate from mystery in the fifth book to which I just gave birth. (It’s not out in the world yet.) I’d say it’s bordering on general fiction, since it has elements of romance, psychological thriller, historical fiction and mystery. I just go where the story takes me.

What inspired you to write your first book? One day on a long drive I noticed an operator in a red Canadian lumber jacket working the lift bridge. I imagined that people passed him by every day without registering his existence. I began to wonder: what if he is a monster who cleverly blends into the scenery? From that came a book that explores the juxtaposition of unspeakable evil with love and community. The theme runs through most of my books. I’m fascinated by why people become murderers or abusers.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began? When I first retired and began serious work on my unfinished novels I was advised by a friend to join Sisters in Crime and Crime Writers of Canada. These organizations led to critique groups, mentors, friendships and networks. In the last couple of years, my publisher, Cheryl Tardif of Imajin Books, has been a huge influence.

Who or what influenced your writing over the years? My daughter has been an enormous influence on my writing. She encourages me, inspires me. Even when she was little she was interested in what I wrote. My son is a scriptwriter so his advice and direction have helped enormously. My husband has supported my obsession without faltering once. I’m very fortunate to have a family and friends who encourage me all the way, who offer critiques and spend hours editing, and motivate me to finish.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? I think perseverance is my biggest challenge. It’s similar to a love relationship. In the beginning you’re all excited and the interaction is easy. Then come the more difficult times, in turns boring and frustrating. You get bogged down by detail. If you stick with it, you’ll come out the other side and enjoy your affair once more.

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Genre –  Psychological Suspense

Rating – 18+

Connect with Catherine Astolfo on Facebook  & Twitter

Website http://www.catherineastolfo.com/

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Matchplay Series (Three Book Boxed Set) by Dakota Madison @shortontimebook

matchplay

THIS ROMANCE BOXED SET includes the COMPLETE MATCHPLAY SERIES (THREE FULL LENGTH NOVELS).

MATCHPLAY (Book One of the Series)

A Girl, a Guy, a Tournament and a Challenge

The Girl: At a time when most girls obsess about homecoming and high school prom, Rainy Dey spent her senior year caring for her dying mother. So when her father drops her off at college to start her freshman year, his words of advice to his bookish daughter are to start acting like a young person and finally have some fun.

The Guy: College senior, Aaron Donovan, aka Mr. Hot-and-Knows-It, is President of The Clubhouse, a social club for the college’s most wealthy and popular guys. Aaron can have any girl on campus except the one who challenges and excites him the most–Rainy Dey.

The Tournament: Every year, the senior members of The Clubhouse engage in a golf-inspired tournament to see who can sleep with the most freshman girls. When Rainy finds out about The Tournament, she believes Aaron’s only interest in her is to score points by taking her V-Card.

The Challenge: Can Aaron convince Rainy that his feelings for her are true and that she won’t be just another notch on his tournament scorecard?

FAIR PLAY (Book Two of the Series)

The Good-Girl, the Bad-Girl and the Boy They Both Want…FAIR PLAY begins where the New Adult romance MATCHPLAY left off.

Bad girls need love, too…

Keira Whitley is used to getting what she wants and what she wants is the sexy-and-smart, Aaron Donovan. They’re both from extremely wealthy and prominent families and their parents have talked about getting the two of them together since they were kids.

The only problem is that Aaron recently got engaged to the girl of his dreams, Rainy Dey.

But Keira knows she and Aaron are supposed to be together and she’s not about to let a little thing like Aaron’s declaration of true love for Rainy get in her way.

But is all really fair in love and war?

FINAL PLAY (Book Three of the Series)

A Guy, a Girl and the Deviled Egg they both want…

Straight-laced newbie engineer Lucas Young wasn’t looking for love when he attended his friend, Rainy Dey’s wedding reception. But what he did want was one of the delicious looking deviled eggs that were prominently displayed on the hors d’oeuvres table.

Unfortunately, the delectable treat was practically stolen out of his hand by…

Ella Warner, groomsman Evan Warner’s “crazy” younger sister and the black sheep of their well-to-do family. Ella does everything on her own terms, including snatching a yummy deviled egg from Lucas’s rather hungry clutches.

But it’s going to take a lot more than the perfect deviled egg to keep this completely mismatched couple from going completely off the rails as they negotiate an increasingly complicated relationship.

Opposites may attract but can they actually find true love with each other?

This NEW ADULT ROMANCE SERIES contains language and content indented for adult readers (18+).

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Genre – New Adult Romance

Rating – R

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Connect with  Dakota Madison on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://12novels12months.tumblr.com/

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