Sunday, October 30, 2011

Horror Novel Month: The Black Chronicles: Cry of the Fallen by Joel Andre

We are without power from the latest extreme weather to hit Western Mass this year. I am posting this remotely and hope to be back home soon.




All around her Lauren Bruni is faced with destruction. Her marriage has ended, and her professional life is at the breaking point. For Lauren, this is only the beginning of her pain.

In the small town of Cottonwood, AZ everything seems to be headed in the same direction. A serial killer is on the loose, and his trail of victims holds no connection. His rampage escalates and becomes far more brutal with each murder he commits.

As Lauren attempts to prevent her own life from collapsing down around her she must stop a killer with supernatural strength. But there is something far more sinister in the works than she could ever imagine. In the end it is up to Lauren to make the ultimate sacrifice to save a community from the purest form of evil.

Read the excerpt!


Ashen smoke covered the, once radiant, blue skies of the Verde Valley. Controlled burns were in full swing as the summer season quickly approached. The heat of Arizona this time of year could prove to be deadly, especially in the thirsty desert foothills.

From her front porch, Lilia Sanders looked at the clouds of smoke that rose in the air. The purple mountains, covered with patches of green, always amazed her.

This was the whole point of her moving to Cottonwood, Arizona. The clean, dry air and amazing views were truly a Godsend. With her horrific allergies, the desert had proven to be the perfect place for her to seek refuge.

Closing her eyes, she inhaled deeply, as the smell of mesquite tickled her nose. In this area, there were so many different plants that she could enjoy. The Saguaro cacti were, in her mind, animated versions of Gumby she remembered as a child. At dusk, they would be there to guard her from the dangers that the night can bring. At their base, a number of prickly pear cacti, mesquite bushes, and native grasses littered the ground.

Certainly, there was no reason she couldn’t own a home with a yard, but one of the benefits of living in the desert was that gravel and a natural feeling were okay. Especially with the cost associated with keeping grass.

Standing up for a moment, she dusted off the back of her blue jeans. One downfall of the desert was the amount of dirt that seemed to get everywhere. As she passed the window, she took a look at herself. Her once raven black hair was now streaked with strands of gray and her emerald green eyes weren’t as bright as they had been when she first arrived in the Verde Valley.

Smiling a wrinkled grin, it was all okay with her. She was alive, and that was all that truly mattered. Getting older was a part of life. This is the part that most people forget to enjoy, but not Lilia. She relished being able to watch the beautiful sunsets and the mysteries of the desert that the monsoons created as the water surged across the land.

An old white mail truck slowly made its way down the street toward Lilia’s home. Taking a quick glance at it, she just shook her head. The old man waved his hand slightly at her. Smiling, she nodded her head warmly. At that moment, she didn’t have thirty minutes to talk foolishness with Carl the mailman. There was an appointment she must get to; however, her gentle nature prevented her from being rude. Walking out to the mailbox, she met his eyes and smiled again.

“I’ve missed you Lilia.” He winked at her. “You are the most important stop on my mail route.”

“I’m sure Carl.” Her words were even-toned. “Is your day going alright?”

“It remains the same as usual.” He laughed as his brittle yellow teeth appeared from behind his caked lips.

“You look thirsty Carl.” Lilia sighed. “When did you last have some water?”

“You know I hate the stuff,” he scoffed and playfully pushed her. “Maybe I can come in and get some.”

“Some water perhaps,” she quipped, and turned, while Carl playfully slapped her on the rear as she made her way back toward the porch.

“Carl,” she growled. “I don’t have time for your games today. I am sorry for being short, but I have a very important appointment.”

“Aww, come on Lil. Why do you keep playing hard to get,” he demanded. “Don’t you see how excited you have me?”

“I’ll give you some water and a swift kick in the ass,” she chuckled.

“Tell you what my sweet little Lil, I’ve got a package in the back of my truck. When you bring me the water, I’ll give it to you.” He winked at her devilishly.

As she turned once again towards the house, she rolled her eyes. Carl was certainly harmless, but she didn’t appreciate the attention he gave her at times. There was nothing wrong with being friends, she just couldn’t understand why he continued to harass her.

From the south, a warm breeze smacked the back of her neck, and she could feel the sweat begin to bead up. She made her way for the old wooden door that was in desperate need of paint, and pushed it open.

Cool air blasted her face as she entered her home. The smell of furniture polish and stale smoke made her eyes water. She hated the way that the smoke smelled, but quitting wasn’t an option at all.

Turning to look behind her, she noticed that Carl had gotten back into his mail truck and was nervously looking around. The man was all talk and no action, but this pleased her to no end.

Walking to the kitchen, she opened a wooden cupboard and dug through the glasses in it. There were a number of chipped and cracked glasses, she didn’t mind using herself, but she tried to avoid giving them to company. In the back, she found a decent sized glass with a blue hue to it.

Pulling it out, she walked over to her freezer and began to fill it with ice cubes. Counting out exactly ten, she dipped down to her refrigerator, pulled out a bottle of spring water and filled the glass.

Water was scarce in the desert, and the nearby wells were loaded with minerals and heavy metals that were native to the area. Bottled water was the one luxury that Lilia afforded herself.

With glass in hand, she stepped out of the air-conditioned home and was immediately welcomed with a blast of hot air. Sweat once again began to bead around her neck. It seemed hotter now and she felt her skin begin to moisten under her white tank top.

Making her way over to Carl, she noticed he was staring straight ahead. His knuckles were pure white against the black steering wheel in his hand. He remained unmoving even as she approached.

“Carl,” she called out to him.

No response. The unmoving man left a sense of dread in Lilia’s stomach. Was he another victim of dehydration, or could it be a case of heat stroke, like what happened to those poor immigrant workers in Phoenix the other day? Perhaps he was just slightly overheated. Quickly picking up the pace, she scampered over to the side of the car and placed a hand on his shoulder. His head did turn, but, she could barely hear him breathe.

“Are you okay,” she demanded, and shoved the water in his face. “Drink this Carl, you’re overheating!”

Again, there was no response. As she placed a hand on his shoulder, she then noticed for the first time his right eye and the tears that were seeping from it.

“Why are you crying?” She anxiously demanded.

Pain paralyzed his face, and although Lilia tried to figure out what the problem was, he sat there frozen. His eyes remained unmoving.

Finally, she shook him hard and his head bobbed enough for her to see the trickle of blood seeping down his left side. Taking a step back, she watched as he convulsed slightly and moaned.

As she embraced her friend, she grimaced at the sight. Where the left side of his face had once been, his left eye just hung swaying in the wind. The muscle and tissue now exposed with the cheekbone poking out. Lilia screamed a horrified cry, as she felt the waves of nausea flow over her.

“Carl? What happened?” she demanded.

Turning, she began to run toward her front door. She knew she needed to call 9-1-1. If he stood a chance of living, it would be up to her.

As she grabbed the front door, she felt herself being flung back. It seemed surreal, as the front door began to blast backwards until she felt her body slammed hard against the mail truck.
The crack of her bones and muffled cries filled her ears. Around her, the world began to spin around in violent waves, and she fought to remain conscious.

Move Lilia. She thought. If you don’t move, you’re going to die.

Giving it all she had, she attempted to push herself forward. However, all she could muster was only enough to cause her body to scream in pain.

As blood seeped from her mouth, she began to look around. Her house was intact. There had been no explosion, and no apparent reason for the incident.

Then, she noticed the polished, black cowboy boots to her right. Trying to look up, she couldn’t see anything past the stranger’s knees.

“Who are you?” she demanded. “Why are you doing this?”

Among fits of coughing and struggling to breathe, she couldn’t hear a sound from the man before her. He was simply standing over her. It was almost liked he enjoyed the chance to watch her die.

Giving it all she had, she reached for the cowboy boots and weakly clawed at them.

Finally, he spoke. His words were as cold as the distant San Francisco Peaks.

“Don’t fuck up my boots.”

The muscled legs moved back and then slammed down hard on her hand. The bones inside crushing, and pain shot through her body. She wished she was dead now. Lilia knew that death would be far less painful.

Almost as if the man understood, he took a step closer to her, and he let the steel toe of his boot finish the job.

Darkness began to enclose Lilia, and soon there was nothing more for her to feel, as Death welcomed her into its’ loving arms.

Read the reviews!

“For lovers of horror, Cry of the Fallen is, quite frankly, a devilish delight. Joel Andre has the incredible talent to bring the reader right in to the midst of the story and his magnanimous use of description will leave the reader reeling. This is a story whose shock value runs high and will definitely leave the reader wondering which way is up. As I read, I felt as though I was watching a movie playing out around me. The story runs amazingly smoothly, consistently and never has a “down” time. With constant action and a continuous “creep factor”, Cry of the Fallen is a story that screams to be read quickly and without interruption.”

– Cafe of Dreams Book Reviews

“…an enjoyable read that leaves you guessing. Definitely recommended reader for your Halloween enjoyment!”

– Confessions of an Overworked Mom

"This is a first class horror/suspense story. "

- Donna's Blog Home

"I VERY highly recommend this book! Joel has really become one of my very favorite authors and I will be anxiously awaiting his next book!"

--Life in Review

"Joel combines a fantastic type of dark humor, with creepy horror and suspense, and turns out a novel that will hook the reader and leave them looking over their shoulders..."

--Reviews by Molly

PURCHASE THE BLACK CHRONICLES: CRY OF THE FALLEN AT AMAZON OR SMASHWORDS!

Originally, Joel wanted to be a poet growing up….but then things began to change for him. People took notice of his off the wall tales, and encouraged him to go in a new direction. That is why he is proud to deliver some of the most unique tales to date.

From, A Death at the North Pole, (a new revised edition is coming in 2011) to, Kill 4 Me, and his newest addition to his books The Black Chronicles: Cry of the Fallen, Joel has taken readers across the world, and painted worlds that are dark, sometimes comical and always exciting.

If you haven’t had the chance to read anything by Joel M. Andre, then pick up the new book today…..it will be a tale that plays with your fear and opens your mind.

Visit Joel online at http://joelmandre.info/

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Horror Novel Month: Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator by Karina Fabian

By the 2040s, the shambling dead have become and international problem. While governments and special interest groups vie for the most environmentally-friendly way to rid the world of zombies, a new breed of exterminator has risen: The Zombie Exterminator. When zombie exterminator Neeta Lyffe gets sued because a zombie she set afire stumbles onto a lawyer's back porch, she needs money, fast. So she agrees to train apprentice exterminators in a reality TV show that makes Survivor look like a game of tag. But that's nothing compared to having to deal with crazy directors, bickering contestants and paparazzi. Can she keep her ratings up, her bills paid and her apprentices alive and still keep her sanity?

Read an excerpt!

The workout room had a weights set and an elliptical in one corner, but Neeta ignored them. She needed more vigorous exercise than that if she wanted to burn off her emotional funk.


None of the plebes had done the routine she'd just set for herself. It didn't really reflect the reality of zombie movements, either. Although the crew had designed the targets to look much like actual undead, they moved too quickly, changed direction too suddenly, lunged and retreated in ways zombies couldn't imitate. They zigged and zaggged, dropped from the ceiling to zoom back up, flung themselves from the ground to trip the unwary. For once, this wasn't about training.

Neeta steeled herself, found an opening and dove in with a roar. She swung high, tagging the first zombie with the edge of her blade just as it got within her reach.

This was about reflexes,

She jumped over the arm that sprung up in front of her, doing the splits as she brought down her chainsaw to slice the hand off at the wrist.

…about burning aggression,

She spun a full circle, moving the saw in a sine wave. She took one target out at the knees, sliced another sideways across the chest, beheaded a third.

…about moving beyond thought and planning and negotiations with writers and directors and people who cared more for ratings than lives,


She lunged, spun, kicked and swung, her battle cries a perfect accompaniment to the pounding music.

A buzzer sounded, and the lights brightened and steadied. The targets stopped their frenetic motions and presented themselves for her to examine. She dropped the saw where she stood and braced her hands against her knees to catch her breath. Her arms felt like lead. A good feeling. She moved among the grimacing targets, noting the strikes that would have severed limbs, the ones that would have beheaded... When she came to the long-haired one with the pot belly, she gave a feral grin.

She's landed the blade in perfect position to slice Dave's manic smile right off his face.

Read the reviews!

"Funniest. Zombies. EVER! I laughed so hard I cried at times….. I highly recommend it to everyone."

--You Gotta Read Book Reviews

"Fabian shines in her ability to create believable supporting characters (with distinctive personalities full of their own idiosyncrasies and quirks… With zombie fever raging across America with the phenomenon of AMC's Walking Dead, lovers of the genre will certainly enjoy Fabian's spin on things. Neeta is to zombies what Buffy is to vampires!"

--Examiner.com

"At long last, a zombie book with some life in it! With Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, Karina Fabian--taking a break from astro-nuns and gumshoed dragons--has produced something that stands out—a zombie tale that is a direct-hit satire of modern American culture (and anti-culture).

--Walt Staples


PURCHASE NEETA LYFFE, ZOMBIE EXTERMINATOR AT AMAZON!

From zombie exterminators to dragon detectives to nuns in space, Karina Fabian's universes make readers laugh, cry and think. Winner of the 2007 EPPIE Award for best sci-fi and the 2010 INDIE Award for best fantasy, she lets her characters take her where they will and is never disappointed. Karina Fabian is married to Colonel Robert Fabian. They and their four kids call home wherever the Air Force sends them. Learn more at www.fabianspace.com.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pump Up Live Chat Tonight!

WE’RE HAVING A PARTY!!!!


Strike up the band and join the chorus…Pump Up Your Book will be hosting the October 2011 Authors on Tour at a chat/book giveaway party on Friday, October 28, 2011 starting at 8 p.m. eastern (7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain and 5 p.m. Pacific) and ending at 10:30 p.m. (eastern time). Tell your book friends that not only will this give them an opportunity to chat with their favorite authors there will be a huge giveaway at the end of the chat!

* 8 p.m. eastern * 7 p.m. Central * 6 p.m. Mountain * 5 p.m. Pacific *

Here’s how it will work:

The party will kick off at our brand new chat room with an approximate 2 to 3 hour chat in which all authors touring with Pump Up Your Book in October 2011 will get a certain time slot to answer questions. All time slots are listed below so you’ll know when your favorite author is going to appear. When the party winds down, it’s time to dish out the goodies! All winners will be announced below after the chat is over so be sure to check this page to see if you’ve won a prize! If you are a winner, you have 48 hours to contact us in order to win your prize. We will be using Random.org to determine winners.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER CHAT ROOM

In order to get into the chat room, you will need to click on the link above and put in your real name. Only those with real names are eligible to win prizes. Ignore the part that says password, and hit Login. The chat room will magically appear before your eyes!


The doors will open at 7:45 to allow everyone to get in and the first author will start at 8:15. Because of the amount of authors participating, we have extended our usual end of the month chats to 3 hours. You do not have to stay the full 3 hours to win prizes. All you have to do is ask one of the authors a question to be eligible.

You have to be logged in under your real name as no prizes will be distributed under false names.

Once the chat starts and the first author is announced, all questions will then be directed to that particular author for the 10 minute timed segment. If you ask a question during the time limit and the it’s time for the next author, the author still can answer the question. PLEASE NO CHIT CHAT WHEN THE AUTHOR IS TAKING QUESTIONS OUT OF COURTESY TO THE AUTHOR.

Because the authors only have 10 minutes to answer your questions, it would help to get acquainted with them before the chat and start writing down your questions to ask. You must ask a question to be eligible to win prizes.

Prizes include free books and a Kindle giveaway valued at $79!

Horror Novel Month: Frightliner: And Other Tales of the Undead by Karina Fabian and Colleen Drippe

A truck-driving vampire terrorizes Interstate 10 in New Mexico and Texas. When he targets trucker Jay Carlson, Jay finds himself unwillingly teaming up with an illegal alien and a tough-talking custodian--both of whom claim to be vampire hunters.  However, they are injured in the fight, and Jay will have to conquer his disbelief and destroy the vampire himself before it kills them all.

Read the excerpt!

Of course that was why he had not come out to check on her, she thought with a surge of relief. He probably thought it was an abandoned car. But now--she stepped out onto the gravel, hearing for the first time how loud the crickets sang. She smelled the strong scent of the cooling air. Too early for snow. Too warm, still anyway, though she cursed herself for not thinking to put on jeans before making her big exit. She peered at the cab, but nothing moved.


“Hello!” she called, moving closer. She could not make out a logo on the truck. It was dark, dark paint. She had an impression that the shape was--not wrong exactly, but not usual. It was an older model, she decided. An old truck.

She had reached the door.

“Anyone there?” she called, hesitating to step up and look inside. What if something had happened to the driver? What if he were dead? What if she opened the door and a body spilled out onto the road?

But that was silly. He had just pulled up. Probably he was rummaging around in his berth for some tools.

But what if he was dead? What if she took hold of the door and--and what if he was right there, watching her?

She had almost decided to go back to her own car. But the thought of the semi parked behind her, silently cutting its chunk from the sky, was in some strange way even more frightening than opening the door. She reached up for the handle and pulled herself up level with the window.

The handle turned in her hand.

It was then she knew she had done the wrong thing. If only someone else had come--she prayed for someone else. A cop. Even a car full of good old boys. Anyone.

The crickets fairly screamed their shrill and mindless song, the scent of the Russian knapweed was overpowering. But it wasn’t strong enough to hide another smell, a dark earthy smell. A smell of death mellowed by long usage.

The door opened.

Reba froze, clutching the handle, balancing there with the driver’s seat in front of her. She tried to speak, to call, but nothing would come out. She hung there, thinking of death, while the night passed and the stars moved and the moon looked in over her shoulder. Finally, she climbed into the truck.

“Daniel,” she whimpered. She was ready to forgive the new pickup, but it was too late. Something moved in the back and she turned in the driver’s seat and saw a pale face, caught in the moonlight, eyes gleaming. She had an impression of lank hair, grizzled beard. And then two hands reached up to take her shoulders and she saw the mouth open.

Read the reviews!

"...touches reminiscent of some of Stephen King's better efforts without actual aping his style. The protagonist is everyman, the people he meets are everyone, his allies are mortal, and the Evil is ancient."

--Walt Staples

PURCHASE A COPY OF FRIGHTLINER AT AMAZON!


Karina Fabian: Karina Fabian writes fantasy and science fiction, with the occasional foray into the world of horror. Her first novel, Magic, Mensa and Mayhem, the 2010 INDIE Award for best fantasy. Her latest book, the comedic horror, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, was a top ten in the Preditor and Editor reader’s polls and winner of the Global E-Book Award for best horror. Learn more about her works at http://fabianspace.com/.


Colleen Drippe has been writing since age 6 and has had a lot of science fiction, a moderate amount of horror and fantasy, and assorted nonfiction scattered throughout the small press and online. She also writes for children and has had three children's books published so far (The Little Blue House, Christmas at the Little Blue House, and Mystery at Miners’ Creek) and another one (Growing with the Little Blue House) due out any day. She has had one sf book published (Godcountry) and another (Gelen!) coming out this year. She is the former editor of Hereditas (of happy memory but dried up funding) and is currently working on another sf book along with various other projects.

Shoe Done It by Grace Carroll Giveaway at Debbie's Book Bag

Stop by Debbie's Book Bag to see what kinds of book giveaways she's running right now, like this one for Shoe Done It (An Accessories Mystery) by Grace Carroll.

If you enjoy cozy mysteries, this book might be up your alley. Check out this giveaway at http://debsbookbag.blogspot.com/2011/10/review-and-giveaway-shoe-done-it.html.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Spotlight: Boogedyman by AP Miller

“What if the Boogeyman was real?”

Plagued by horrific boogeyman nightmares since childhood, Murray Thompson is deathly afraid of the things that he thinks “go bump in the night”. The one thing that keeps him grounded is his psychiatrist of many years, Dr. Rosen. With regular visits since he was 11 years old, Murray feels progress should have been made already, but with his dreams becoming more intense and “real”, he thinks something needs to be done. Going to see his family, Murray believes that this is the break he needs to keep sane. Feeling at home, and safe around his family, it works for a time. But when the nightmares start up again, he once more relies on Dr. Rosen for help. Once back, Dr. Rosen takes Murray on a journey to root out his longtime phobia and find out if there is cause for his fear or all in his mind.

Read an excerpt!

Prologue

The clouds perforated the moonlit sky in a dance macabre. The street lamplight’s bulb flickered, and blew out.

The sound of a cat screeched through the nearby alleyway as it knocked over the lid of a steel trash can it had been hiding under for shelter. Along the heavily tree-lined, dimly lit street, cars were neatly parked while their owners nestled inside the safety of their homes, sleeping soundly.

Sixteen year-old Abigail Moorehouse walked home as usual after her shift at the all night diner. With her mp3 player tucked neatly in her jeans pocket, she plugged the earphones tightly in her ears while moving to the beat of the music as it soothed her. She never could get used to walking alone in the dark late at night. If she wasn’t forced to take a job after school to help her mother support her two younger brothers she would be in the comforts of her own bed right now. Her feet ached as she continued her pace.

The music ceased in her ears. She knew the battery must have died.

Irritated, she removed the earphones and placed the player in her apron pocket instead. One more block to go she knew and quickened her pace. The night breeze began to blow a slight chill that surrounded her so she wrapped her arms about her for warmth.

Behind the tree ahead, the unseen dark figure hid waiting. Abigail hastened her pace as she felt a familiar pit in her stomach. The kind she sensed when she knew something was about to happen, and her instincts set off a jumble of warnings.

As she reached the tree the figure stepped out, grabbed her from behind with a firm hand to her mouth and a sharp blade to her throat. Her fingernails dug into the assailant’s firm grip as she tried to scream but her mouth was muffled. She stumbled, scratching and kicking his legs. Twisting, turning every which way. Her family’s faces flashed before her eyes. She wasn’t giving up, not now.

Tears stung her eyes as she continued her fight. She bit his hand, for a brief moment freed from his grasp. He pulled back on her hair as she kicked and screamed. Lights to the surrounding homes turned on as the owners emerged from their doors to see what the ruckus was all about. He pushed Abigail down on the ground the moment he wanted to shove the knife he carried deep into her back. Too late.

A young man came running from one of the homes to her aide. “Back off of her! Someone call 911!” Her attacker was up and running as two more men followed on his heels. He was too fast for them and gone from sight before they could see his face.

“Are you all right, miss? Here, let me help you up. The police were called and on their way.”

She was visibly shaken and still crying. “Thank you for saving me,” she managed in a whisper.

“Don’t worry, you’re safe now.”

She heard one of the approaching policemen say how lucky she was compared to the girl two nights ago.

“Come now, Miss, you’re all right. We have an ambulance on the way to take you to the hospital. Can we call your parents?”

Abigail handed him her cell phone.

“You’re a very lucky girl. We will find the person that did this to you, I promise.”

The music ceased. More abrupt and more impact.

Read the reviews!

"The characterization is excellent. I quite like the interactions between Murray and Doctor Rosen. I also like the psychological horror element of the book. It's a far cry from most YA horror which, if anything, pays only lip service to the psyche side of horror. I think it's remarkable that a young adult book focuses so much on older characters as well. You never see that."

--Rosser's Relaxed Reading Reviews

PURCHASE BOOGEDYMAN AT MUSEITUPPUBLISHING.COM OR AMAZON!

The writing team of AP Miller lives in sunny and mostly warm Las Vegas, Nevada with their three dogs who are plotting for world domination, and they wouldn't have it any other way. Their writing is based on the belief that readers' needs are of the utmost importance. They are committed to meeting those needs. Their readers are very important to them and they enjoy meeting and hearing from each and every one. They welcome the opportunity to earn your trust and deliver you the best books possible in the industry.

Visit AP Miller online at http://apmiller.weebly.com/.



Horror Novel Month: Don't Make Marty Mad by Calico Skelly


Marty has a few issues, like needing anger management. Can his family help him solve his problems?

Read an excerpt!

Opening the door to our doublewide, I expected the fragrant odor of dinner on the stove to settle my raw nerves after the rough day I’d had at work.

I expected to hear the happy voices of my young son and daughter at play as their imaginations ran rampant.

I expected a warm and loving embrace from my wife of twelve years; the woman I’d loved throughout high school and had married upon graduation because my first son was on his way into this world.

I expected to receive the respect of my family for bringing home the bacon week after lousy week despite having to put up with the bastards at the factory who pushed for more out of me when I was already giving all I had.

Stepping into the trailer, my senses were assaulted instead with dank, foul air, a roaring television, toys strewn everywhere so there was nowhere to step, and a dark, empty kitchen which bore no signs of recent occupation.

My wife, again pregnant, this time with our fourth child, lay sleeping on the sofa, snoring softly.

Frozen for several moments on the top step, absorbing this scene of undomesticated bliss, I was dumb-founded—speechless. Obviously the lessons of the past were forgotten.

PURCHASE DON'T MAKE MARTY MAD AT MUSEITUP PUBLISHING OR AMAZON!

Calico Skelly resides with her family in the countryside. She enjoys watching psychological horror movies, reading well-written horror and dark fiction books and discussing the difference between good horror and slasher horror. Besides writing horror, she enjoys going to the movies, watching good horror television shows, shopping and attending horror conventions, such as Spooky Empire in Orlando, Fl.

Read more about Calico and her WIP at Macabre Raconteur. (http://macabreraconteur.com/)






Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book Spotlight: Devil's Hand by M. E. Patterson

A Las Vegas poker ace with supernatural luck is swept into a world-ending conflict between fallen angels and otherworldly shades, in a thrilling debut novel for readers who enjoy Dean Koontz, Jim Butcher, and Tim Powers.


The lone survivor of a tragic plane crash, Trent Hawkins inherited a mysterious lucky streak that made him famous, and hated, in the poker circles of the City of Sin. It wasn’t long before the eyes in the sky threw him on the blacklist and chased him out of town. Now, after years away, Trent returns to Las Vegas, and walks right back into trouble.
As a serial kidnapper terrorizes the city, Trent and his wife, Susan, rescue a strange, thirteen year-old girl, only to find themselves caught in a fallen angel’s plot to cleanse Las Vegas with an unholy blizzard.

As the neon dims and the city freezes, Trent is forced to make terrible sacrifices in order to protect his new charge, and learns dark truths about himself and the creatures plotting against mankind. Poker-playing demons, fallen angels, and otherworldly shades all vie to enlist his strange luck, and Trent must choose his role in the coming War, or watch our world fall to ruin beneath a blanket of shadow and ice.

Read an excerpt!


Chapter 1

“The end times are nearly upon us! We will all stand in judgment beneath the watchful eyes of our Lord! Come now, to the arms of the King, and repent! Repent for your sins, and you will find everlasting love in the—”

Bullshit, thought Trent Hawkins as he punched the tuner button and sent the radio frequency careening toward the next solid signal on the band. End times? Who even believes that shit anymore?

He had only listened to “Eddie Palisade’s Hour of Faith” for a few minutes out of sheer curiosity and a certain morbid fascination. Too hellfire-and-brimstone for Trent’s taste, but the syndicated radio show was immensely popular with the God-fearing crowd. Trent had found it on three separate stations as he searched the band for some decent music.

Thick drops of rain splattered against the windshield of the rented moving van. Ahead, the flat horizon glowed like a neon tube set in the sand of the south Nevada desert, and beyond stood the hypercolor wasteland of Las Vegas, a neon monstrosity to which Trent had no interest in returning. He looked sidelong at Susan, asleep in the passenger seat, smiling, blonde hair half-covering the pixie-like features of her face. He would do anything for her, though, even if it meant coming back here.

The radio hissed through a patch of white noise and then settled on an oldies country music station, a bit weak in strength, but listenable. Johnny Cash cried from the van’s tinny speakers, barely audible above the endless drumming of the rain atop the metal roof. Trent smiled. To Hell with Eddie and the “Hour of Faith.” He’d take Cash as his preacher any day.

He shifted uncomfortably in the driver’s seat as the van bounced along Interstate 15. His right thigh ached—an old injury from the crash—the only physical wound that had lasted. The wet-slick road trashed the van’s handling, making every steering adjustment a nerve-wracking event. He had always hated traveling. But after the crash, the hatred had become dread. He wondered again why he had let Susan talk him into coming back here.

He glanced at her, and then at himself in the rearview and used a free hand to adjust the angle of the gray cowboy hat. He didn’t think the hat looked silly. She had said that to him a few months back, on his thirtieth birthday no less, when he’d insisted on wearing it out to meet friends at a bar. She had been teasing, he knew, but still…

“You look ridiculous,” Susan had said. “Like you’re trying to be that guy from Pale Rider.”

“You mean Clint Eastwood?”

Susan frowned. “No, the character, not the actor.”

“The Preacher?” Trent laughed. “You think I look like an old-west preacher? I’m more like the guy in High Plains Drifter.”

Susan had smiled at him then, one of her smiles that made him feel weak and strong at the same time. She leaned in and kissed him on the forehead. “You’re not that guy,” she whispered. “That guy’s pure evil. He only looks out for himself. And that’s just not you, honey.”

Trent smiled at the memory and turned his attention back to the road, fingers drumming on the steering wheel.

Johnny sang out from the radio, “Well, there’s things that never will be right I know—” And then an intense, screeching burst of static, timed perfectly with a shuddering thump upon the roof of the van that set the entire vehicle to ringing. The noise dashed Trent’s smile and he ground his teeth together in surprise.

Susan sat up, alert and confused. “Wha—?”

Trent gripped the steering wheel even tighter as another massive bang rang out from the roof above him. The van skidded wildly on the road. He peered through the window, up at the sky, and saw white dots growing larger and larger until one of them resolved into a chunk of ice that slammed into the windshield right in front of him and exploded, sending icy shards in a radial spray across the glass.

Trent snapped back and his foot hit the brake. The cowboy hat flipped backwards off his head and dropped behind the seat. The moving van squealed and fishtailed, the popping coming faster now, rapid-fire against the metal panels, a sudden and tumultuous barrage of softball-sized hail.

“Shit!”

He over-corrected and the vehicle swerved on the two-lane interstate and crossed over the middle before he managed to bring it back into its original lane. Balls of ice smashed against the road and the van and it was all he could do to keep the tires tight against the pavement. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Susan, fully awake now, gripping the door handle in frozen panic, her lips moving, but he couldn’t hear anything except the pounding hail.

He turned his full attention forward again and suddenly saw the thing in the road. A tire? A hubcap? No, something green and rigid, like a piece of a highway sign. Trent threw the wheel to the left, desperate to avoid the debris. The van screeched, swayed, and veered off into the left lane again and then he heard the loud pop and felt the sickening sideways drift as the van careened out of control.

He jammed the brake to the floor again and squeezed the wheel in a death-grip, gritting his teeth as the van pitched off the left shoulder and headed for dirt. He wrenched his right hand free of the wheel, threw his arm across Susan’s chest, and felt her slam against it as the vehicle dove into the muddy desert and slid to an awkward stop.

The hail continued its staccato rhythm upon the metal vehicle as Cash sang, “Well I know I had it coming, I know I can’t be free—”

“Susan, baby, you alright?” Trent leaned across the cab, arm still pinning his wife to her seat.

She looked up at him, eyes wide and mouth agape. She blinked, and then formed a weak smile. “Holy shit,” she said.

Another massive ball of hail splattered against the windshield, making them both jump.

They looked at each other for a long, silent moment and then began to laugh, quietly at first, inaudible above the din, and then louder, until they were both cackling, foreheads pressed together. Trent kissed her and could feel her shaking with both laughter and adrenaline overload. He pulled back, looked at her with a crazed grin on his face, and shook his head.

“I think we blew a tire,” he yelled, gesturing behind him with his thumb.

“Holy shit,” she said again, still chuckling.

Trent looked around the cab for something—anything—that he might use as a shield against the falling hail. He thought about waiting the storm out, but it didn’t look like it intended to let up soon. He needed to get the van moving, or they might end up stuck in the gathering mud. He couldn’t see anything useful, just the old gray Stetson behind his seat—the hat the hospital staff had given him from the wreckage of the plane. They had thought it was his but he never had the heart to tell them it wasn’t. He grabbed it and put it back on his head, covering up his short black hair. He shrugged and kicked open the driver-side door with his foot.

“Trent!?” shouted Susan.

He turned to look at her. “What?”

She gave him one of those you’re-doing-something-stupid-again looks that both infuriated him and made him smile. Susan had an arsenal of those kinds of looks; it was part of what made him love her. And Trent had a history of doing stupid things since the crash. Maybe it was facing certain death and winning that had left him dull to the sense of threat. Or maybe the impact with the ground had just knocked a few screws loose. He wasn’t quite sure.

“It’s too dangerous!” she shouted. Another icy softball punctuated her statement by smashing against the windshield right in front of her. She winced.

“Gotta change the tire!” Trent replied. “Or we’ll get stuck in this mud!”

She stared at him for a moment and then, with a determined look, she grabbed the hardcover novel in the passenger-side floorboard, lifted it above her head, and popped open her door.

“Wait—” said Trent, but she was already out, yelling at the top of her lungs, the book barely covering her head.

He stared for a moment, irritated but not surprised. Susan was like that. Farmer’s daughter, never one to stand by while others worked. He shrugged and leapt out the driver’s side and into the pounding hail, expecting that he could make it to the back of the truck without any major damage. After all, he was the luckiest man alive, right?

The first ball smacked against his arm, bringing up an immediate welt and intense, stinging pain. The second smacked against his denim-covered thigh as he dashed toward the back of the van. The third chunk of ice crashed down atop his head. The sudden shot of pain was like a hammer blow, blinding, and he reeled and barely caught himself on a handhold at the back of the U-Haul as the cowboy hat tumbled to the ground.

Susan was there and already had the back of the van open and had jumped inside. She was rummaging through the few pieces of furniture and boxes. Trent grabbed the fallen hat and then managed to climb gingerly in next to her. He slumped down in a beat-up old recliner they had taken from her apartment. Most of the stuff in the van had belonged to Susan. After the Gaming Control Board blacklisted him, they needed money. Trent’s expensive items brought in more cash at the pawn shops. Pawn shops and the GCB—two more reasons he hated seeing that glowing city on the horizon again.

“Yes!” She held up an old whiteboard she had used while studying for her nursing exam. It was large enough for them both to hide under if they crowded close.

“That’ll work,” said Trent. He reached up to touch the sore spot on his head. His fingers came away with sticky blood. “Dammit.”

“Oh, honey, are you okay?” Susan set the whiteboard down and rushed over to him.

He waved her off. “No, no, don’t worry about it. It’s fine.” He jammed the Stetson back onto his head and grinned at her, but her expression still showed worry. “I’ve had a lot worse.”

She gave him a plaintive look.

“Come on,” he said and got up from the recliner. He walked over to the spare tire hanging on the inside wall of the van, next to a hand-crank jack. “Let’s change a tire.”

The off-road jaunt had sent the front driver’s-side tire across a jagged chunk of rock, cutting its rubber flesh like a knife. No way would this roll any further. Trent brought the new tire over, trying his best to avoid the crashing hail as Susan struggled to keep them both beneath the whiteboard.

They worked as a team, Susan holding the flashlight and whiteboard as Trent worked to break the lug nuts on the ruined wheel. Every few minutes, he heard her yelp as a ball of ice crashed down on some part of her that had snuck out from beneath the rectangular shield. He wanted to tell her to quit—to get back inside the truck and let him handle this—but he knew better. She wouldn’t leave him here by himself, even if he told her to.

Trent forced his weight down on the tire iron, struggling to break the last nut. “Dammit!” he swore, as the hail battered the whiteboard over his head. He summoned as much strength as he could find and gave the tire iron a powerful shove. The lug nut broke with a pop, nearly sending Trent pitching forward to the ground as the tire iron started to spin. He dropped to his knee, removed the final nut, and pulled off the useless tire.

The hail stopped, as sudden as it had come.

Susan looked up at the sky and then down at Trent with a quizzical look on her face. He shrugged. The rain had not abated, but at least the pounding hail had quit. She hesitantly lowered the whiteboard. A sudden, sickening thwack startled them both. They looked at the top of the van as Susan shone the flashlight on it. A thin stream of—blood?—was running in a rivulet down the white side-panel.

Trent dropped the tire and stood up. “What the—?”

Another splat as something landed on the van’s hood and they both jumped again. A fish? Another slammed down next to it, splattering Trent with blood. He grimaced and leapt back, away from the van.

Susan screamed as a sudden multitude of fish began to rain down. Panicked, she dropped the whiteboard and ran for the back of the truck, still shrieking, hands covering her head.

Trent watched her go, astounded. He had never seen her so terrified, not once in the years they had been together. She usually had a remarkable fortitude and a stern strength in the face of obstacles. But this… He looked up as dead fish began bouncing off the top of the van.

Fucking Eddie was right, he thought. It is the end times.

He grabbed the fallen whiteboard and sprinted for the back of the van. He reached it and found Susan curled up inside the truck, tears streaming down her face.

“You okay, baby?!” he shouted.

“Jesus Christ!” She looked at him with tears in her eyes. “What does it look like?”

Trent climbed in and put an arm around her. “It’s just fish.”

She sobbed. “It’s not about the fish, Trent.” Tears streamed down her face. “It’s everything. Everything’s gone wrong. We shouldn’t have come back here. The job at the hospital and fucking James and you didn’t want to be here anyway and your head and this place fucking hates us both—”

Trent grabbed her by the shoulders and kissed her on the lips. She kissed him back, hard. After a moment, they pulled away and Trent looked her in the eyes and smiled. “Come on, babe,” he said, gesturing toward the storm raging around them. “It’s just fish. Happens sometimes. Bad storm, tornado picks up some garbage from a lake and throws it a few miles. It’ll be over soon. Least it’s not hail.”

They stared at each other for a moment. Finally, Susan cracked a tentative smile.

Trent laughed. “You gotta find the humor in this, right?”

Susan nodded and took the whiteboard from hand. “Okay,” she said. And then, “Thanks.”

After a minute or so, the rain of fish lightened, and they made their way to the front of the van, to the ruined tire. Susan lifted up the whiteboard, just in time to catch another bloody slap on top of it. Trent dove under the shield and grabbed the spare tire. Something about fish dropping from the sky encouraged him to work harder on the tire. Then the pace picked back up again, as another wave of slimy bodies splattered against the van and the pavement and the muddy shoulder, some still alive, flopping and writhing as they died.

“This is awful!” shouted Susan, struggling to be heard over the thumping sounds of flesh against the metal van.

“At least it doesn’t hurt as much,” Trent replied without looking up from his work. He had two of the lugnuts back on the new wheel; two to go.

Susan stumbled as a particularly hefty fish slammed down atop the blackboard. Blood ran off the edges in glimmering red streams. “Hurry up!” she yelled.

“Okay, got it!” Trent torqued the final nut down and kicked the release on the jack. The van slumped back down, mud squelching from beneath the shiny new tire. “Let’s go.”

They dove into the cab and slammed the door shut. Susan scrambled across the center into the passenger seat. She dumped the whiteboard into the space behind them.

She looked at the windshield, now nearly opaque with fish guts and bloody smears. The periodic thumping against the roof seemed to have a predictable rhythm. “What the fuck?!” she exclaimed, laughing. “This is insane!”

Trent looked at her wryly. “You never been in a fish-storm before?”

She punched him in the shoulder.

He chuckled. “Well we better get this thing out of the mud. Hope it can still move. You need to be at work in the morning.”

The statement made him feel worthless. He had no job. It had only taken a year of unbeatable pro gambling before they blacked him out. A lot of money gained and a lot of money lost; now he did odd jobs if he could find them, and those rarely lasted long. Bad things happened at job sites when Trent was around. After the crash, when the swelling had gone down and his spine turned out to be intact, the doctors called him the ‘luckiest man alive,’ but he didn’t really feel it, not anymore at least. Except at the poker table, he felt just the opposite.

He glanced at Susan, who had pulled her blood-smeared rain slicker around her shoulders. The storm had brought an unusually cold chill with it. She grinned at him, still shaking her head. He smiled back. Well, mostly unlucky, he thought.

A trio of fish smacked wetly on the glass in front of him and then slid slowly down onto the hood. He flicked on the wipers, creating a transparent pink window amidst the blood, illuminated weirdly by the coruscating shafts of colorful light from Las Vegas in the distance.

He gunned the engine. The wheels spun in the mud, but eventually caught, and the van hauled itself back onto the road. The hail chunks had nearly all melted, but the dead fish were not going anywhere, making driving even worse than before. It felt like riding on grease.

Trent eased the vehicle back into the proper lane and gave it just enough gas to set it trundling down the Interstate, barely topping 10 MPH. Only twenty miles to go, but he figured it would be near-morning before they made it to the new apartment.

“Hey, hon?”

Trent glanced at Susan. “Yeah?”

“Thank you.”

Trent nodded, then ran his hand through his hair, matted and wet with rainwater and blood. He winced when he touched the spot where the hail had struck.

“It’s okay,” he said.

But he wondered at the truth in that. It didn’t seem like Vegas wanted him back any more than he wanted to be there. It definitely did not seem okay.

Read the reviews!

"This is a fantastic debut novel by author, M.E. Patterson. It has intrigue, mystery, angels, demons, magic and more included for this engaging ride into the fantastical world of Angels and Demons."

--Mad Moose Mama

“This book is guaranteed to keep the reader on his/her toes. There is constant action and excitement with some undercurrents of menace when the antagonists come in.”

--Live to Read

“This debut author, with his skillful pen, unique mythos, and non-conventional world-building is one to watch.”

--Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews

PURCHASE DEVIL'S HAND AMAZON!


M. E. Patterson is an author of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and thrillers, as well as an information technologist. He received an English/Fiction Writing degree from Virginia Tech, where he studied under nationally-recognized writers and poets. He has published short stories on RevolutionSF and his first manuscript for his book, Devil’s Hand, placed in the top five in the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest.


You can visit his website at http://devils-hand.com or his blog at http://blog.digimonkey.com.
Connect with him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mepatterson or Facebook at http://on.fb.me/dhnovel.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book Spotlight: Telegraph Island: Jason Smiley Stewart- My Life Story by John Milton Langdon

Step back in time to the Victorian age. The industrial revolution in Britain is in full spate and electronic communication is in its infancy. Based loosely on fact author John Milton Langdon weaves a tale of romance and adventure on the high seas and in the Orient.

Jason Smiley Stewart — My Life Story describes the life of an average man. Although he is born in humble circumstances, he shows how a combination of perseverance and intelligence aided by a little good fortune, can help any child overcome the disadvantages of a lowly birth status and poor education.

In Telegraph Island, the second of four novels chronicling the life of Jason Smiley Stewart, the young man’s continuing adventures are described. He has his share of failure and success but once again demonstrates that his poor origins are no bar to fame and fortune when he leaves the life of a sailor to join the communication revolution.

Read an excerpt!

“- – - – - I felt on top of the world and ate a hearty breakfast and as I did so I noticed that Joanna was neither eating very much nor looking very happy. After a time she stopped moving bacon and eggs around her plate, put down her knife and fork and looked at me with a strange and wondering expression.

She said sadly “You seem very happy this morning, Jason. Are you pleased to be leaving me so soon?”

“No of course not, Joanna” I replied and went on “If I seem happy this morning it’s because I am in love with a most wonderful person and she loves me too. I can barely believe that I’m really awake and not locked in a wonderful dream. I don’t want to leave just as we have found each other”. I held her hand and said “I must go Joanna as I cannot change the arrangements now. I know that I will be desperately unhappy until we can be together again”.

“Haven’t you forgotten something, Jason?” she asked obscurely.

I did a quick mental review of my packing and replied “I don’t think so Joanna, thank you. I’m sure I have packed everything”.

She let go of my hand. “Oh! Men can be so obtuse at times” she said with some asperity and then asked angrily “Don’t you remember what you said to me in the night?”

“Yes of course”.

“Do you remember my response?”

“Yes of course I do” I said still puzzled by her questions.

And then realisation struck. She was angry because I had been thoughtless in my misplaced cheerfulness and what was worse I had said nothing about my suggestion that she should be my wife. It was so much worse that Joanna had found it necessary to remind me about something that should have been my first priority.

What a fool I was. My euphoric mood drained away like water down a plug hole and at least mentally I kicked myself around the room.

I tried to take her hand but she was still angry with me and moved it out of reach as I said “Darling Joanna, please forgive me for being such an insensitive clod. I was so happy this morning that I just didn’t think beyond the here and now. I said last night that I would like you to be my wife and this morning I still feel the same, but I will have to ask your Mother’s permission before I can propose to you”.

“So why just sit there eating breakfast, when my mother is sitting in the next room reading,” was Joanna’s tart reply “She intends to go out shortly”.

I jumped to my feet, left the breakfast room and knocked on the door of the morning room. I went in when I heard Mrs. Evans call out. She was sitting in an armchair reading and I stood in front of her chair feeling a little like a child in front of the headmistress.

“Good morning, Jason, I hope you enjoyed a good night’s sleep?”

“I did thank you, Mrs. Evans and I hope you did as well” I said, then paused, not at all sure where to start or what to say. She looked at me, put her book on the side table and waited patiently for me to continue the conversation without saying a word herself. I collected my thoughts and failed totally to remain calm as I said without ceremony or preamble “I would like to have your permission to ask Joanna to marry me. I know it must seem sudden to you, but as I am just about to leave for India I would like to know that Joanna feels as I do and will wait for me to return”.

“Over the tribulations of the past few years I have come to know you quite well, Jason, and I think you will make my daughter a good husband. I think you have a good future and know that you will provide for her to the best of your ability. You have my permission to ask her”.

“Thank you Mrs. Evans. You cannot imagine how relieved I am” I responded formally and returned to the breakfast room where Joanna was waiting.

As I closed the door and walked towards her she said in a worried voice “What did my Mother say? You weren’t very long. She didn’t refuse did she?”

I smiled at her, then went down on one knee and asked simply but very seriously “I should be honoured if you would consent to be my wife Joanna. Please will you marry me?”

Read the reviews!

"I highly recommend this book."

--Life in Review

"Those who love nautical, historical stories will find this a pleasant read."

--One Day at a Time

PURCHASE TELEGRAPH ISLAND: JASON SMILEY STEWART-MY LIFE STORY AT AMAZON!

Author John Milton Langdon is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and has a master’s degree in maritime civil engineering. Langdon retired and became a professional writer after an active and rewarding engineering career. Initially he worked in Britain but from 1972 until 2008, he dealt with project development in Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria. Langdon lives in the Austrian town of Klagenfurt which has a history stretching back to mediaeval times. Langdon has three children and five grandchildren from his first marriage and two step sons from the second. Langdon has many interests including travel, the British canals, music and literature but hiking in the mountains surrounding his home is a preferred leisure activity.

You can visit John’s website at www.jmlangdon.com.





Book Spotlight: Glorify Each Day: A Novel by John Banks

Glorify Each Day is a darkly comical novel depicting the consequences of violence in modern American life. It tells many stories. Tommy “Teach” Morrison, the novel’s main character, tells the story of his relationship with his childhood friend Charles – a story of a horrible misunderstanding and a story that Tommy can never retell. It tells the story of Tommy and Cait, a story of shared love and shared jokes, but a story that Tommy has doomed to end unhappily.

Glorify Each Day is the story of how Tommy becomes Teach, a man on a mission and on a quest for redemption – instructor extraordinaire (at least in his own mind) who must become the protector of all the ill-fated youngsters put in his charge. It is the story of Teach and his father, a crusty, foul-mouthed abuser of everyone around him and proof that nuts don’t fall very far from the tree.

Glorify Each Day is a story about storytelling and the many different ways to tell a story – stories about Teach’s students; about superheroes, Jesus, races, raps, rapes; about a young woman who learns how to forgive her father, another young woman who learns how to forgive herself, and another young woman who learns that she doesn’t need anyone’s forgiveness. And these are stories that Teach should be able to learn something from, too, stories that shine a light on lives disfigured by violence and loss.

Read an excerpt!

CHAPTER 1
ONE SUMMER SATURDAY when I was eight, my mom decided she wanted to spend the afternoon visiting with her friend, Mary, who lived about a mile from our house. We lived on a winding country lane, with houses far apart, separated by large tracts of land. My dad was on the road.

“It’s Saturday! Can I just stay here?” I said. Normally, I would spend most of Saturday with Charles, but he was at the beach.

“I’m not leaving you here alone all afternoon. You and Robbie go put on your shoes.”

“I don’t want to!”

“I don’t care if you don’t want to. . . . You two go pick out a couple of games to take with you. You can watch TV.”

As we were getting ready to leave, our Chihuahua, Señor Perro, came running up to us, tail wagging, mouth panting and yapping. Any collective movement within the household would set him off. Mom bent over and vigorously rubbed the dog along both flanks. As was her habit, she started babbling in baby talk. (She had another habit, more unusual – if Señor Perro misbehaved, she would inexplicably translate the dog’s name into English – Mister Dog! Bad Mister Dog! – even though, I suppose, that would have negated any effectiveness of yelling at a Mexican dog.) Although technically belonging to me and Robbie, Señor Perro was most loved by our mom. He, true to his nature, had a tendency to snap at us if we got too rough, which we, true to our natures, usually did.

Robbie and I selected the games we wanted. I chose Monopoly because it took the longest to play. Robbie chose one of his silly kid games called Horsefeathers!, which involved putting strange animal body parts together to create even more unusual creatures.

Mary was an older woman who lived alone, and there wasn’t anything in her house for a kid to get excited about. Robbie and I spent an hour playing Monopoly, arguing incessantly about dice rolls, how to count money, which was the best railroad to land on, what did Water Works mean. At one point Robbie threw all the Community Chest cards at me, and the game was stopped peremptorily by Mom when I lunged at Robbie, grabbed his neck, and tried to make him eat a hotel.

Robbie had a more sedentary disposition than I and seemed satisfied to spend the rest of the afternoon lying on Mary’s living room carpet watching cartoons. But soon after the Monopoly debacle I was desperate to be outside.

My persistent badgering finally paid off.

“Alright, Tommy,” my mom relented. “I’m going to leave in a few minutes anyway. I guess you’ll be okay at home by yourself for a little while. . . . You can go on two conditions. Number one, don’t walk in the road. Stay on the grass. Do you hear me?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Repeat what I just said.”

“Don’twalkintheroad. Stayinthegrass.”

“Okay. And when you get home, stay in the yard. Don’t go into the woods. . . . Now what did I just say?”

“Stayoutofthewoods. Stayoutofthewoods. CanIgonow? CanIgonow?”

Even though Mom had to drive over, it was easy for me to run back home. I stayed on the road all the way. The idea of running on the grass was ridiculous. The ground was uneven and rutted in places; I was much more likely to fall and hurt myself if I followed my mom’s instructions.

The reason I was so eager to leave Mary’s house was because I was excited about practicing my pitching. Dad, a few months ago, had put up a tire swing in the backyard. It didn’t take me long to figure out the swing was also the perfect device to improve my pitching. The tire’s inside circumference was an excellent approximation of the Little League strike zone, and its height off the ground matched the height of most batters my age. Making this development even more exciting, I had finally been able to convince my dad to “ruin” the backyard by building a pretty convincing pitcher’s mound. So far, I had collected five baseballs from various places, which I carried in a toy bucket brought home from the beach. After throwing my five pitches, I would run to the chain-link fence to retrieve them. It was a perfect set-up, though I did wish I had more than five balls to pitch.

When I got back home, after a nearly mile-long sprint, I wasn’t even breathing very hard. I walked around to the side of the house, to where the spare door key was hidden, and let myself in.

Señor Perro was at the door to greet me. In my haste to get my glove and bucket of balls, I ignored the Chihuahua. I tended to ignore the dog anyway, though there were certainly times when both of us were in playful moods and I would wrestle Señor Perro and roll him on the floor – but more often than not this roughhousing would come to an abrupt end when Mister Dog would emerge, turn nasty and snap at me. I had not yet developed a habit of cursing, but would damn the dog in my own little-boy way.

Back outside, I ran to my pitcher’s mound in the backyard. My windup featured a very high left-leg-kick, which allowed me to balance on my right foot and lean the right side of my body backward to the point where I felt almost in danger of toppling over. In this way, I assumed, I would be giving myself the greatest amount of forward momentum possible as I threw the ball toward home plate. My pitches usually made it through the center hole of the tire, although sometimes a ball would ricochet off the inside rubber of the tire before being called a strike by the imaginary umpire.

After a half hour of pitch practice and ball retrieval, I heard Señor Perro barking from inside the house. Señor Perro was impatient and inconsistent when he needed to go outside, so I knew I needed to postpone my fun for a few minutes, if I wanted to prevent Señor Perro from being transformed into bad Mister Dog when Mom returned.

The dog ran outside immediately and scampered into the backyard. We had a high concrete deck with steps leading into the backyard. This side of the deck, facing the back yard, was a formidable concrete wall. And against this wall, which was about as high as I was tall, was Señor Perro’s favorite spot to cock his leg – which he did.

Having done my duty, I was in no mood to play with the dog. I wanted to pick it up and carry it back into the house so I could continue to pitch and to see how many consecutive strikes I could throw. Señor Perro, however, was in no mood to cooperate with me. He ran away when I tried to pick him up. He ran over the top of my pitcher’s mound, under the tire swing and then began running along the perimeter of the fence – with me in full chase. After two laps around the backyard, Mister Dog ran once again under the swing and came to a sudden stop on top of my pitcher’s mound. It was here that the dog started doing the unthinkable. Furious and not believing my eyes, I ran to the dog and picked it up, even though the animal was in full squat, with a long segmented turd hanging halfway to the ground. Señor Perro growled furiously and snapped his jaws at my arms, which were stretched out to full length, as the dog continued to defecate. In my anger, I threw the dog to the ground. Señor Perro once again took off running, this time toward the front of the house.

I wanted to forget about the dog and return to my soiled pitcher’s mound, which would require a bit of excavation before play could resume. But I knew how fearful Mom was about her dog being in the front yard, where there was no protective fence making it safe from traffic. So once again I was forced to postpone my fun in order to be a good son. Señor Perro, however, did not run up the short bank to the front yard. He stopped once more at the bottom of the concrete deck-wall and once more cocked his leg. I took this opportunity to seize the little bandit, and this time I was not going to let go. Still angry at him for desecrating my pitcher’s mound and for taking up so much of my fun-time, I started to squeeze Señor Perro tightly, holding it the way a running back holds a football. The more I squeezed the dog the harder I wanted to squeeze. I felt my arms squeezing tighter and tighter. Tighter still, as my teeth clenched and my arms started to tremble. The dog yelped loudly and struggled to free itself. I was holding it so tightly it could not move its head from side to side in order to bite. Its helpless yelping was muffled beneath my arms.

My anger slowly subsided and I loosened my grip on the dog. Reflexively, Señor Perro snapped viciously at me, grazing my arm with his fangs. I yelled out in pain and all of my anger returned in full force. Señor Perro leaped from my arms, but before the dog could escape, I jumped on it, picked it up with both hands, and with all of my strength hurled the dog toward the concrete wall. Señor Perro howled when he hit the wall and started yelping as he hit the ground. Señor Perro’s pathetic yelps were continuous, metronomic and piercing. Panicked, I could see I had broken the dog’s leg badly. I had no idea what to do. Señor Perro’s yelping was incessant. I reached down toward the dog, but it snapped again, with foam flecking from its mouth. I started running aimlessly around the yard. The dog’s yelping only seemed to be intensifying. I reached the fence at the far end of the yard and reached my fingers through the chain links and began to shake and rattle the fence, to what purpose I don’t remember, except perhaps to drown out the noise of the dog. As I stood shaking the fence, I suddenly thought about Mom and became terrified that she had heard Señor Perro from Mary’s house. I became sure of it. Even more panicked now, I started crying. I released the fence and started walking slowly back toward the dog, which continued to yelp steadily. As I gazed around the yard, I saw a shovel lying against the back of the house – the shovel my dad had used to build my pitcher’s mound. I grabbed the shovel and continued walking toward the dog.

When I got to within a few feet of Señor Perro, his yelping was unbearably loud.

“Shut up!”

The dog continued its crazed yelping.

“Shut up! Shut up!”

I raised the heavy shovel about shoulder-high and brought it down on the dog’s head. There was a metallic clang against the skull, but the dog continued to yelp, now with an even faster cadence.

I raised the shovel again, this time to a full height above my head, and slammed it once again against the dog’s head.

The yelping immediately ceased. Once again I was struck dumb with indecision and fright. I stared down at the dog and threw the shovel behind me; perhaps I was trying to disassociate myself from what I had done. I sat on the ground, cross-legged, still staring at Señor Perro, who lay motionless, a small spot of blood visible on his brown scalp, his hind leg angled grotesquely away from the other three.

I suddenly jumped to my feet and picked up the shovel, as a passing car reminded me Mom would be home soon.

The Chihuahua fit almost perfectly into the blade of the shovel, with only his front leg dangling. It was surprisingly heavy as I carried it across the yard. I slowly lay the shovel aside before I lifted the latch on the gate. When I picked the shovel up again I was careful to keep all the weight properly balanced – especially as I carried the dog along uncertain footing up into the woods. I trudged deeper, deeper, across a soft bed of pine needles, not knowing when to stop – perhaps not wanting to stop, wishing I could continue on forever into a never-ending forest.

Eventually, however, I did stop and slowly began digging through the moist undergrowth until I hit solid dirt. The soil was rocky and the digging became difficult. The grave wasn’t very large, but Señor Perro fit well enough. He would be hidden well by the leaves and needles. Before beginning to cover the dog, I bowed my head and asked God forgiveness. I had stopped crying.

As I finished my short prayer, I was startled to hear my mom shouting my name. The voice was too close to be carrying from the back deck of our house. Once again, I was helpless about what I should do. Mom continued to shout my name, her voice coming closer. I doubted I could finish burying the dog before Mom discovered me. I heard my name called once again, much closer now. I wanted to run away, deeper into the woods, but I must have realized how futile that would have been. Instead, I reached down and picked up the limp body of the dog and began walking slowly toward the sound of my mom’s voice.

As soon as she saw me, and what I was carrying, she ran to me.

“Oh my God.”

I didn’t say anything. She quickly took the dog into her arms.

“Let’s go, Tommy. We’re gonna have to run. We have to get him to the vet.”

“He’s dead, Mama.”

We were running, sticks crunching underfoot.

“No, baby, he’s not dead. He’s not dead. I can feel his heartbeat.”

Robbie started bawling immediately when he saw Señor Perro. On the way to the vet, Señor Perro started to regain consciousness.

“What happened, Tommy?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did you leave the gate open?”

“What?”

“I’ve told you repeatedly to make sure that gate stays closed.”

“I’m sorry, mama.”

“Well, I know, son, but as soon as we get back you have to be punished for this.”

“Is Señor Perro gonna be okay?” Robbie asked, his tears dried now that the dog’s eyes were open again. Señor Perro was, I imagine, in shock, strangely silent considering the agony he had been in.

“He’ll be fine, sweetie. The vet will fix his leg.”

“What happened to him?”

“I don’t know, sweetie. He must have fallen down a hill or into a hole. Tommy, where was he when you picked him up?”

“In a hole.”

Which was the only true statement I have ever made about the incident.

Read the reviews!

"Tommy 'Teach' Morrison, a controversial GED teacher who is at once a plethora of personality and pain, is riddled with the guilt of his past. He is sentenced to emotional outbursts and an insatiable hunger for redemption, albeit the recurring pain lives solely in his mind and his day-to-day is insufferable. Although he is not a role model by any stretch, this is one of the most humorous, haunted and honest characters to cross the page in a long time. Glorify Each Day is a witty and gripping, if not addictive, read. The structure of the story is intelligent and climactic, leading its readers into a world of watchful waiting. There are finely intertwined stories which almost always satisfy the reader’s questioning and sleuthing, with an exception of some characters that, although intrinsically interesting, do not necessarily warrant such lengths of exposition dedicated solely to themselves, in this reader’s opinion. That being said, each character is leaping full of life.

John Banks displays his gift throughout this novel; his ability to realistically capture such a wide range of personalities and language is hilariously accurate and brings a colorful realism to the characters, as one would hope. His characters are battered and scarred, making them memorable and endearing to the final period.

This novel and John Banks have brought a light to the quest for self and the means with which as a human race we will strive to find it. Through Teach, a journey is realized in loss and grief, culminating in an ultimate release of his past and renewal through emancipation.

A read this good should not be ignored. A small warning for the sensitive and earmuff-wearer: Teach is a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is-according-to-him, sometimes offensive storyteller. He has a tale to tell, and a compelling one, if you can get around his means."

– San Francisco Book Review

PURCHASE GLORIFY EACH DAY AT AMAZON!

John Banks was born in Asheville, NC. His storytelling is very much in the Southern tradition, with a special affinity for humorists such as Mark Twain and the Old Southwest school of writers. Though entirely imaginary, much of the material in Glorify Each Day must have come from his many years as a teacher in the public schools and community colleges of his native state and from the three years he spent as an a community college administrator.


Visit his website at http://www.819publishing.com/ or his Facebook Fan Page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Glorify-Each-Day/161071770628202?sk=wall.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Spotlight: The Illusion of Certainty by Greg Messel

The Illusion of Certainty follows two parallel storylines. Marc is a successful businessman who seems to have everything—a great job, a beautiful wife, a house in an upscale neighborhood of Portland, Oregon and two great kids who are preparing for college. But something is not right. Marc is unsettled by the sudden change in his wife, Aimee, who seems distant and unhappy. What’s going on with her?

The second storyline involves a successful young attorney, Alexandra Mattson. Alex, as she is called by her friends, meets a handsome young cop, Sean, during an unexpected crisis in her neighborhood. Sean and Alex seem made for each other and begin to merge their futures in a world of uncertainty.

The only certainty in life is that we will face uncertainty. Despite all fo the technology and controls available in the modern world, sometimes the only comfort comes from the human touch.


Read an excerpt!


The naked woman stood motionless, leaning against the wall of the shower and letting the hot water strike the top of her head and cascade down her back. She placed her hands flat against the tiled shower wall and leaned forward and closed her eyes. The warm water soothed her exhausted body and she felt enveloped in its comforting caress.

She felt safe and was now pampering herself after a grueling night shift at the hospital where she was a nurse. A nurse with considerable responsibilities.

Aimee Hunt-Wilson had enough experience and clout to avoid these awful shifts but as a supervisor she was on a mission this summer. She had been working nights most of the summer to try to rehabilitate the night shift, which was in disarray. Someone needed to repair the damage brought on by an incompetent supervisor who was now gone. Aimee was trying to shape things up. It’s what Aimee did best; however, it was taking a toll on her.

Marc Wilson was having his first moments of consciousness on this Tuesday morning. He slept alone. That was happening more and more these days. From the bed he could see Aimee, his wife, through the clear glass
box that was the shower in their master suite. The only light filtering into the bedroom and casting a soft light on Marc’s bed was the light from Aimee’s shower.

He leaned up on his elbow and gazed through the steam at the nude Aimee. He was getting aroused. Marc still loved his wife’s body. Lately, when he saw her, she was always hidden in the baggy scrubs she wore at the hospital. Her long black hair was plastered to her wet bare back by the shower water. Aimee always tanned so well. At this point in the summer she
had a perfect swimsuit tan. Her body had matured but it had actually gotten
better since the college days when they first met.

Her breasts and hips were fuller now but the rest of Aimee’s body was taunt and lean. She was about 5-5, probably in the best shape of her life. Aimee obsessively exercised and carefully monitored her diet. After her shower she would come to bed to rest and then be pounding the pavement this afternoon running, getting in her miles. Aimee had always been so meticulous about what she ate and she imposed the same standards on Marc.

Marc’s favorite meal, a burger and fries, was considered in the same
category as rat poison by Aimee. If Marc went through a fast food window
to sneak a burger, he felt compelled to hide the evidence from Aimee. But all of this vigilance certainly paid off in the way Aimee looked. This
mother of two, with a manic schedule, looked terrific as she approached
Illusion of Certainty middle age. Her long dark hair, which was naturally curly, was a stunning combination with her bright blue eyes.

Marc now lay in the early morning light watching Aimee step from the shower, all pink and soft, as she began to towel off. She then plugged in
her hair dryer, bent over and began to dry her long hair. As he observed her maneuvers to dry her hair, he was taking in the sight of her bouncing breasts and lovely body. Marc knew that when she finished, she would quickly throw on one of his oversized t-shirts and jump under the covers—just as it was time for Marc to get out of bed and begin his day.

Marc rolled out of bed and attempted to head her off before she dressed
and made it to the bed. He was hoping that somehow he could have her, that he could enjoy the physical pleasures of his sexy wife. This had not been planned but the moment was presenting itself and he wanted her. Marc hoped Aimee would want the intimacy, too.

Aimee slipped on some bright blue bikini panties just as Marc stood in front of her and said, “Hey you’re really looking sexy this morning.”

“Oh Marc, I’m so exhausted, you seem to have the world’s worst timing.”

“Oh come on Aimee, wouldn’t it be fun?”

“Trust me Marc, it wouldn’t be fun right now. I just need some sleep.”

“So when, in this whole summer, would you suggest I make love to you?”

“Marc,” Aimee said with resignation, “I’m begging you to not start right
now.”

Read the reviews!

“This is a wonderfully written and intuitively imagined story. I enjoyed it from the first page to the last, and have no reservations in making it a recommended read.”

– Between the Pages

“Messel did a great job in the storytelling of the characters and their relationships. I give this book 5 Stars and have it sitting out on my new book shelf next to the fireplace. You will have a big grin on your face my friend when you put this book down.”

– April’s Lifetime Show

“I very highly recommend this book! The story is beautifully written and hooks you from the very start. The characters are vivid and realistic. The story is heart-wrenching and tragic at times but always leaves you with a feeling of hope. It’s a very touching story that leaves you feeling satisfied. I first became a fan of Greg Messel’s books after reading Expiation. I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.”

– Life in Review

“Not only were these characters amazingly created, this story itself spoke so many volumes. Being swept away to two different worlds, two different couples’ lives was breath taking, as we watch them embrace their lives; watch them open their eyes to the real world of their relationships.”

– Book Reviews by Molly

“It was so close to perfection. I was absorbed from page one and I never wanted it to end, yet at the same time, I couldn’t wait to find out everything.”

– Just Another Book Addict

“This one wins a perfect 5 out of 5 stars in my book and thank you Greg for adding another book to a permanent home in my personal library.”

– Reviews From the Heart



PURCHASE FROM AMAZON!



Greg Messel has written three novels and three unpublished memoirs. He published his premiere novel “Sunbreaks” in 2009, followed by “Expiation” in 2010 and “The Illusion of Certainty” in 2011. Greg has had a newspaper career as a columnist, sportswriter and news editor. He won a Wyoming Press Association Award as a columnist. Greg also spent many years in the corporate world as a Financial Manager. He now devotes his energies to writing at his home in Edmonds, Washington on the Puget Sound just north of Seattle, where he lives with his wife, Carol.

You can visit his website at www.gregmessel.com. Connect with Greg on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gregmessel  or Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.messel