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Monday, December 30, 2013

Jade Kerrion – Alpha males and the women who can kick their butts @JadeKerrion

10:30 AM Posted by James Noel , , No comments

Alpha males and the women who can kick their butts

I’ve read a great deal of paranormal fiction in the past few years, many of them romances. In keeping with the alpha male archetype, many of the novels portray the man as not just an alpha male, but possessed of superhuman qualities. He’s a vampire or a werewolf; he may be a demon, or possibly an angel.

Either way, he’s far more capable than the human woman who falls in love with him.

Those archetypes don’t work for me.

I’ve always enjoyed writing about strong men and strong women. I trace those enduring archetypes back to Robotech, one of the foundational series that shaped my affection for science fiction. In Robotech, Lisa Hayes always outranked Rick Hunter. He did physically save her a time or two, but it didn’t keep Rick, a take-charge alpha male, from addressing his admiral wife, in public, as “ma’am,” and it certainly didn’t keep cool-headed Lisa from managing the star fleet or, on occasion, vetoing her husband’s military decisions.

In my Double Helix series, Danyael Sabre is an alpha empath with the power to heal or kill with a touch. His conscience however, frequently gets in the way of him exerting the darker side of his mutant powers. However, the human woman he loves, Zara Itani, rarely lets her conscience get in the way of anything. She is an assassin and has trouble expressing herself without a gun or a blade in her hand. On a good day, she can wreak more havoc with love than most people can with hate.

Naturally, the theme of the alpha male who loves an alpha female would find its way from my science fiction novels into my first foray into fantasy. In Eternal Night, it’s all well and good for Jaden Hunter to be an alpha male, but he’s human, and Ashra, the woman he loves, is an immortal icrathari who can break bones as easily as a child snaps a twig. More importantly, no matter what happens as a result of their love for each other, no matter what he transforms into, he will never be as strong as she is.

So, what’s an alpha male to do?

It’s not stopping Jaden from protecting Ashra, much to her exasperation. He’s not trying to prove anything to her or to himself; it’s just who he is. It means learning to fight side-by-side while admitting that her hair-raising aerial acrobatics turn his stomach and he’d rather keep his two feet on the ground. For Ashra, it means accepting his misplaced concern for her as his way of expressing his love for her. It means recognizing the courage and heroism in his spirit as equal to hers, constrained though it is in his frail human form.

It certainly guarantees a great deal of friction and conflict as they come to terms with their love for each other.

Real life relationships often walk as delicate a balance as Jaden and Ashra’s relationship. Real life relationships are often as fraught with friction and conflict, but in the end, I’ve always believed it’s not really about who’s stronger or about who’s the alpha in a relationship. It’s about what you can do together, and ensuring that the outcome is greater than the sum of its parts.

It worked for Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes, for Danyael Sabre and Zara Itani. Perhaps it’ll work for Jaden and Ashra too…

E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords

Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository


Jade Kerrion developed a loyal reader base with her fan fiction series based on the MMORPG Guild Wars. She was accused of keeping her readers up at night, distracting them from work, housework, homework, and (far worse), from actually playing Guild Wars. And then she wondered why just screw up the time management skills of gamers? Why not aspire to screw everyone else up too?

So here she is, writing books that aspire to keep you from doing anything else useful with your time.

Her debut novel, Perfection Unleashed, spawned the Double Helix series which has won a total of seven science fiction awards, including first place in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2012 and the gold medal in Readers Favorites Awards 2013. She is also the author of Earth-Sim and When the Silence Ends, which placed first and second respectively in the 2013 Royal Palm Literary Awards, Young Adults category.

She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with her wonderfully supportive husband and her two young sons, Saint and Angel, (no, those aren’t their real names, but they are like saints and angels, except when they’re not.)

Connect with Jade: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Eternal Night ebook

Alone for a millennium, since a human murdered her beloved consort, Ashra, the immortal icrathari queen, rules over Aeternae Noctis, the domed city of eternal night. Her loneliness appears to be at an end when her consort’s soul is reborn in a human, Jaden Hunter, but their reunion will not be easy.

Icrathari are born, not made. If Ashra infuses Jaden with her immortal blood, he will be a vampire, a lesser creature of the night, a blood-drinker rather than a soul-drinker.

Furthermore, Jaden is sworn to protect his half-sister, five-year-old Khiarra. She is the child of prophecy, destined to end the eternal night and the dominion of the Night Terrors—the icrathari and the vampires.

As Ashra struggles to sustain her crumbling kingdom in the face of enemies without and treachery within, Jaden fights to defend his sister and unravel a greater mystery: what is the city of eternal night, and how did it come to be?

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre - Fantasy, Paranormal

Rating – PG-13

More details about the author and the book

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Love Me or Leave Me by Kristine Mason @KristineMason7

10:00 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

Carter glanced at her. At the sexy sundress she wore and imagined slipping the thin shoulder straps down, baring her breasts and taking a taut nipple into his mouth. Swallowing hard, he focused on the road. He hadn’t even kissed her, didn’t even know if she’d want him to, and he already fantasized about making love to her.

As he parked the Infiniti, he realized ending the evening now was probably for the best. While he’d caught her staring at his mouth and biceps earlier in the day and this evening, she hadn’t shown any other indication that she was interested in him.

Give her a reason to be interested.

Damn, he wanted to. He wanted to be blunt. Tell her what she did to him. Kiss her like he’d been aching to for three years.

What could it hurt?

He killed the ignition and climbed out of the car. What could it hurt? Their friendship. Him. While not knowing where he stood with her drove him nuts, if he found out she wanted to keep their relationship platonic, he’d…

Doubling back before opening her car door, he ran a hand through his hair. He didn’t want to consider her reaction any longer. He’d been living in purgatory for three years and was tired of playing it safe.

With determination, he moved back to the car door. “Everything okay?” she asked as he helped her out of his car.

“I thought I saw a dent on the bumper,” he lied as they walked toward the hotel lobby.

Once inside, they entered the elevator. She remained unusually quiet, while he tried to straighten out his thoughts. Should he make a move? Take her hand in his and give her a subtle sign? Or haul her into his arms and strip her out of that dress?

The elevator doors slid open. His heart kicked up a notch and his stomach clenched. What the hell was wrong with him? Since when did he not go after what he wanted? Since when did rejection become an issue?

Since I fell for Brynn.


“Thanks again for dinner,” she said. She pulled out her keycard and slipped it into the small opening. When the tiny light flashed green, she opened the door, but continued to face him. “So…” Her gaze drifted to his lips. “I’ll see you—”

Driven by need, consumed by the hunger in her eyes, his will power shattered. He slid his fingers through her hair, so silky and soft, cupped the back of her head and brushed his lips against hers. She parted her lips, her warm breath a heated caress against his mouth. Aching to hold her, explore the depths of emotion he’d kept bottled inside for so long, he drew her closer. Dragged his lips against hers, kissed the corner of her mouth, her cheek, her temple.

She released a soft sigh. Taking that as a good sign, and needing to taste her, he cupped her cheeks and angled his mouth. He pressed his lips against hers and—

She took an abrupt step back, knocking the door behind her wide open. Breathing hard and holding a hand over her chest, she stared at him. Her eyes wide and holding hints of confusion and uncertainty.

Her rejection stung and tore a hole in his chest. He’d ached for her, had desired her, had longed to make her his for nearly three years. Tonight he’d taken an uncalculated risk, had stupidly taken a chance and received his answer.

She didn’t want him.

Ready to apologize, to right his mistake before it ruined their friendship, he took a step back and gave her more space. “Brynn, I’m—”

“No.” Her hand shook as she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “It’s…I have to go.”

She quickly turned and shut the door. He stood frozen for a moment, kicking himself in the ass for moving too soon.

Too soon?

No. He’d waited. He’d bided his time. Tonight he took action and she’d dismissed him. Pissed, hurt, and feeling like a total asshole, he moved away from her door, then entered his suite.

She didn’t want him.

Fine. Now he could escape his self-imposed purgatory. He could and would move on and forget every single fantasy he’d ever conjured about Brynn. Forget that he was crazy about her.

He slumped onto the sofa. His stomach churned with regret, with loss. He’d wanted her…them…so bad, how could he ever forget Brynn?


Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG-13

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Peter Clenott – Cover Love @PeterClenott

9:30 AM Posted by James Noel , , No comments

Cover Love

Back in the old days when I started to write, there were no computers (at least no workable ones for writers). There was no social media, there was no Amazon, no eBooks, no Create Space. The books I enjoyed you could actually hold in your hand, turn the pages, and when you were done you could find the proper place on your book shelf. By author. In alphabetical order. By genre. Whatever. It was always there, my growing collection. My personal treasure chest. I hate Kindle.

Selecting books from a book store, never on-line, was a pleasure. I rarely went in knowing exactly what I wanted to buy. I wasn’t a trend setter, and I didn’t just shop for whatever happened to be on the New York Times best seller list at the moment. Oprah didn’t exist back in the day either, at least not the book-marketing guru we now know. Part of the thrill of going to the book store was the hunt, finding that hidden gem. If I enjoyed a particular author, I might check her out first. Otherwise, I got out my detective gear and began the hunt. (There were no cafes in book stores in those days either, so even if I entered hungry, I always came away fulfilled with the book of my choice.)

Titles can matter. A title might draw me to select a book, particularly among the novels whose spines were all I could see crammed into a tight shelf. But the cover art was also important. It didn’t make or break a sale, but quality cover art did draw my attention. At the very least the cover art made me pick up the book and read the novel details or blurbs.

When you first enter a book store, there are always displays right up front, usually from the major publishing houses who purchase the right to have the finest display. Their covers stare you right in the face. When my debut novel HUNTING THE KING was published in 2008, I could just imagine customers entering the book store and being startled by the gaunt face of Jesus the king outlined by a constellation of stars in the pattern of a Star of David. I figured who could pass that by without picking it up for a browse? (The issue of which books get placed where in a book store is the matter for another blog)

These days if you self-publish, you can help design the cover of your book as I did with my iUniverse novel THE HUNTED. Overall, the product was well done with one minor complaint. Certain on-line photographs aren’t copyrighted and so are available for selection in the design of your cover. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, you make do with second best. With DEVOLUTION, my latest novel, the publisher, Imajin Books, made the design with my input. The cover shows the face of a creature, half girl, half chimpanzee a reflection of the drama about a girl who can communicate with chimpanzees using sign language.

In my office taped to the wall behind my desk is a big poster of my cover. It captures the attention of everyone who comes in, stirs conversation, and often leads to a sale. That alone validates a well-done cover enhanced by reviews from well-known authors. Besides that, whenever I feel alone and needing a little self-love, I can pick up my novel and gaze at the stunning cover art and feel just a modicum of pride in my accomplishment. Clicking on my lap top or i-thing-a-majig and seeing the cover on a mechanized screen just doesn’t have the same effect.


What does it truly mean to be ‘Human’?

Chiku Flynn wasn’t raised to be human. Born in the Congolese rainforest, she spends her first eleven years as part of an experiment. For her, the aboriginal—the primitive—is ‘normal.’

Just after her eleventh birthday, Chiku witnesses the horrifying death of her mother, and her father sends her ‘home’ to the United States, to a normal teenager’s life. But she can’t adapt. She is the proverbial wild child—obstinate and defiant.

When her father disappears, sixteen-year-old Chiku heads back to the primordial jungle, where she uncovers her own dark past and puts to use her greatest skill: she can communicate via sign language with the wild chimpanzees of Chimp Island.

But there is turmoil in the rainforest—civil war, environmental upheaval…and murder. The lives of the chimps and the safety of the people she loves depend upon one teenaged girl who refuses to be messed with—Chiku Flynn.

Editorial reviews:

“Peter Clenott’s story of a troubled teen searching for her father in the African jungle skillfully combines the breakneck pace of a thriller with the emotional tug of a coming of age novel while providing a fascinating glimpse into the relationship between people and chimpanzees that will leave readers questioning which species is more humane. A thought-provoking read.” —Tasha Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of Behind the Shattered Glass

“Devolution is an enthralling, action-packed and fast-paced jungle thriller from beginning to end. The story is set in modern day Africa and is centered on the book’s heroine, Chiku, a firecracker of a girl full of energy and spirit. She can also talk to chimpanzees! The backdrops to the story are as old as time itself—war, racism, hunger and greed. Can a strong-willed sixteen-year-old girl and a band of chimpanzees survive in war-torn Africa? Or will death find its way into this strange yet wonderful family! This book is an interesting coming of age tale full of intrigue, wonder, romance and danger. A truly exciting and original read! This is not your grandparent’s Tarzan tale!” —Christopher P. Obert, founder of the New England Authors Expo

“If it takes a bipolar teenager and some chimpanzees to save their piece of the Congo, then Chiku and her primate friends are the ones to do it. Label them superheroes. Peter Clenott has captured diverse characters in a vibrant setting and added snappy dialogue for this unique and interesting novel.” —Shirley Ann Howard, author of the Tales series

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre - Young Adult

Rating – PG

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Author Interview – Joshua Silverman

6:30 AM Posted by Quality Reads UK , , No comments
Image of Joshua SilvermanHow do you work through self-doubts and fear?

Usually I tell myself to shut up. But in all seriousness, every artist, whether you’re a painter, sculptor, illustrator, or writer has self-doubt and fear. We’re putting ourselves and emotions on display when we present our work to the public. As a life-long reader of science fiction and fantasy books, I know that I don’t love every author I come across so it’s unrealistic of me to expect everyone to love my writing and books. I just try to shrug it off because for every naysayer or harsh criticism, there’s always that one email I always go back to that a reader wrote me about how much my work means to her. That makes it all worth it.

Have you always enjoyed writing?

I started writing poetry when I was sixteen. Then song lyrics while I was learning to play the guitar. From there I progressed to short stories and finally, at 29 years old, novels.

What motivates you to write?

Belief in my story and my characters. Knowing that they have something to say.

What are you most proud of in your personal life?

Getting married to my awesome wife.

What books did you love growing up?

When I was in high school, I would stay up all night reading Terry Goodkind and the Sword of Truth series or John Sanford’s murder mysteries, the “Prey” novels.


The ancient powers lost to Potara have returned. The Brotherhood of the Black Rose rises to bring Thoth into disorder. And, while the Brotherhood reclaims their power, chaos reigns among the survivors. Six individuals have emerged from the aftermath struggling for control over their lives and a divided land. Kem and Shirin, who abolished the five thousand year reign of the Amun Priests, rule from the golden throne of the Oracle’s Chair in the Hall of the Nine. Dio and Axios struggle to piece together a resistance worthy to challenge the ancient magic which resides in the Great Temple of Amun, and Leoros and Atlantia try to remain true to their hearts and their cause despite tragedy.

But when the Book of Breathings is discovered, the path to immortality is revealed. Leoros and Kem race to capture the Soul of the World unaware of the challenges awaiting them. This time, the gods themselves will intervene.

In a tale where boys become men and girls become women, where treachery and deception are around every corner, and where primeval mysticism finds its way back from the grave, victory is reserved for neither the good nor the evil, but the powerful.

Buy Here

Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy

Rating – PG-13+

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

#AmReading - Burn Baby Burn by Shannon Donnelly @sdwriter

8:25 PM Posted by James Noel , No comments

Burn Baby Burn by Shannon Donnelly


When a half-demon baby puts Mackenzie Solomon’s life—and her job as a demon hunter—on the line, she can’t turn her back on the half-pint of evil. But ‘Junior’ is actually part of a trap to turn Mackenzie’s partner, Josh, and his extraordinary charming skills to the dark uses of the ancient, fallen Grigori, the angels once assigned to be Watchers over humanity. Is she going to have to make a choice about the men in her life?
Can a charmer talk his way out of his destiny?
Josh learned months ago that the bad blood in his demon hunting partner brings out a part of he can’t control—including his desire for her. With a prophecy out on him, he’s more than a little worried some of those bad things should stay burried. But is Mackenzie really the start of something bad—or could she be everyone’s salvation.
Can a couple of humans move heaven and hell?
Mackenzie’s bosses at The Endowment—the place responsible for keeping the peace between heaven and hell—want her to bring in the baby demon and not for anything good. With the Endowment after her and demons to stop, Mackenzie knows she’s on her own.
But she’s going to have to learn to trust Josh—and to use what’s sparking between them. Because it's going to take the kind of love that bonds souls forever to keep the world from ending.

#Free - Hannah’s Dream by Lenore Butler @ALJambor

12:00 PM Posted by James Noel , No comments

Hannah’s Dream by Lenore Butler

Amazon Kindle US

Genre – Historical Romance

Rating – PG

5 (6 reviews)

Free until 30 December 2013

A sweet historical set in 1895
Hannah Dawes is an enchanting strawberry blond who is betrothed to the boy next door.  When his father sends him a hundred miles away to become a doctor, Hannah vows to wait for him.  When he marries another, she's hurt, but she's not down for long.  Hannah has a dream, and the gumption to see it through.  Drawn to the colors in the church's stained glass windows, she abandons the sandcastle sculptures she shared with her former beau and embraces painting with color.  She draws inspiration from the wild Atlantic ocean and when the family fortune is lost and she is forced to move to Colorado, Hannah is heartbroken - until she sees the Rocky Mountains and a cowboy named Adam.
Adam is a shy man who loves horses and thinks he'll spend his life on the range.  But when he
sets eyes on the saucy, red-haired Hannah, he's smitten.  He hasn't known many women, and that Hannah is a strange one.  At first, he retreats when she gets riled up, which seems to be all the time, and she doesn't think he likes her, and when he tries to talk to her, his lack of sophistication frustrates her.  But there is something about the sweet cowboy that stays with her, and even when she meets a handsome and rich doctor, she can't get Adam out of her mind.
While they try to find common ground, Hannah and Adam grow to love one another, but someone from Hannah's past has come to Colorado to steal her away and won't let anyone stand in his way.  Will he keep Hannah and Adam apart?
Settle into an sweet, old-fashioned romance and get lost in Hannah's Dream.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Author Interview - Brian Bloom @BrianB_Aust

12:00 PM Posted by James Noel , , No comments

What books did you love growing up?

My mother was a bit of a romantic. She read me Peter Pan and all the Beatrix Potter stories before I could read, and my grandmother – when she visited – used to read a few pages of Swiss family Robinson every night before I went to bed. I remember them all and I’m going to make sure that my grandkids read them all. Later on, my mother read me Little Lord Fauntleroy, which is very probably what turned me into a rebel. None of my friends called their mothers “mummy dearest”. It just didn’t feel “cool” to my 5 year-old way of thinking. Nevertheless, the story must have been interesting enough even though I can’t remember it today because I sat still for the entire time it took to read that book. Maybe I just enjoyed it vicariously because my mother loved it so much.

When I first started to read, Enid Blyton drew my attention for a few nanoseconds, but I was soon drawn to the Hardy Boys and then, later, I started reading books that can probably be best described as kitchen table philosophy – with an emphasis on the Holocaust; what it was about and why it happened.

My father had once owned a bookshop called Pickwick Bookshop. It eventually went out of business, but he couldn’t bear to part with some of the more unusual books so we had a room full of literally thousands of books. Most were dreary reference tomes or classical works or books on history, but now and again I would pick one out and scan through it, looking for pearls of wisdom. You could probably call it “dragonfly” reading. I would swoop down on a book, dip into it and flit away.

The book that undoubtedly had the biggest impact on my life was one I found on the desk of my friend’s mother. It happened to be lying there and I was bored. It was an out of print book of prose called Earth, by Frank Townshend. He was probably in his 70s when he wrote it. It described in non rhyming verse his perceptions of life on earth and I thought it had been written after World War II. When I finally turned to the flyleaf, I discovered it had been published in 1929. That book had an amazing impact on my thought processes for the rest of my life. It opened with the following statements:


“I wandered about the earth, meeting all sorts of people;

And I lived in every kind of place,

Doing all manner of work.


Of the people that I met, only one was completely and unalterably happy.

Indeed, I observed that most of them did, whatever they did, because of fear;

Fear of life or fear of death,

Or fear of after life or after death,

So they piled up possessions if they could,

Hid from sight their personal affairs,

Covered their risks with reasonable precautions,

Denied their inmost longings,

Or became deeply religious, or even thoughtful.”

I read it from cover to cover, all 164 pages, standing there at Mrs Morris’ desk. It took me hours; I don’t know how many. Time ceased to have meaning and nobody seemed to care where I was. It was school holidays and Peter was lying by the pool, probably asleep or reading.

Who is your favourite author?

I found Michael Crichton’s work fascinating. His approach to scientifically oriented thrillers captured my imagination and probably influenced me greatly in the writing of my books, although I’m not all that keen on blood and guts. I also enjoyed Dan Brown’s works and Beyond Neanderthal has a bit of his style of reasoning in it. Lately I’ve been reading thrillers by Sam Bourne.

What book genre of books do you adore?

Well, the word “adore” is a bit over the top. I really enjoy a good conspiracy novel and I particularly like books that have a feeling of historical mystery – for example, to do with the Knights Templar and their supposed links to the Freemasons. I like science fiction but draw the line at science fantasy. It needs to be credible. I also prefer books to have happy endings. I don’t enjoy books that are dark and leave me feeling scratchy. My preference is to read a book and close it with a feeling of having been uplifted. Once in while I might pick up and old classic that has a bit of old-fashioned romance in it – something like Jane Eyre. Those books remind me of what it’s like to be human in a world that seems to have lost touch with what it’s like to be humane. Nowadays, for example, it’s all about the science itself as opposed to how our lives might be improved by the science. For example, if you watch a TV program on the adventures of (say) a pathologist, it’s all about the blood and guts and how the pathologist looks for physical evidence. No one seems to be interested in the lives of the individuals except if they’re hopping in and out of bed with each other.

I suppose, like my mother before me, I’m a bit of a romantic. I like to read any book that is about people who have something uniquely interesting about them. I’m not particularly interested in what a person has or owns or does. I’m interested in who the person is, how their mind works, and why they are doing what they do. In this regard, I remember something that J.K. Rowling was reputed to have said. It was to the effect that she started off by defining the characters so that each character would be a recognisable individual. Then she built the story around the people. Given the volumes of her book sales, I thought it might be a good idea to pay attention. I bore her approach in mind when I wrote my two novels. Hopefully, my characters themselves are of interest in addition to the storyline.

Do you find it hard to share your work?

Not at all. What would be the point of writing if I was the only person who ever read the stuff?

What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting up?

Once you have decided whether you want to write fiction or non fiction, get yourself an appropriate software program that will help you to structure your thinking in terms of layout and sequence with which information is prepared. If you are writing a novel, make sure that you breathe life into your characters. There are software programs that guide you in that also.

Beyond Neanderthal

There is an energy force in the world—known to the Ancients—that has largely escaped the interest of the modern day world. Why? There are allusions to this energy in the Chinese I-Ching, in the Hebrew Torah, in the Christian Bible, in the Hindu Sanskrit Ramayana and in the Muslim Holy Qur’an. Its force is strongest within the Earth’s magnetic triangles.

Near one of these–the Bermuda Triangle–circumstances bring together four very different people. Patrick Gallagher is a mining engineer searching for a viable alternative to fossil fuels; Tara Geoffrey, an airline pilot on holidays in the Caribbean; Yehuda Rosenberg, a physicist preoccupied with ancient history; and Mehmet Kuhl, a minerals broker, a Sufi Muslim with an unusual past. Can they unravel the secrets of the Ancients that may also hold the answer to the future of civilization?

About the Author:

In 1987, Brian and his young family migrated from South Africa to Australia where he was employed in Citicorp’s Venture Capital division. He was expecting that Natural Gas would become the world’s next energy paradigm but, surprisingly, it was slow in coming. He then became conscious of the raw power of self-serving vested interests to trump what – from an ethical perspective – should have been society’s greater interests.

Eventually, in 2005, with encouragement from his long suffering wife, Denise, he decided to do something about what he was witnessing: Beyond Neanderthal was the result; The Last Finesse is the prequel.

The Last Finesse is Brian’s second factional novel. Both were written for the simultaneous entertainment and invigoration of the thinking element of society. It is a prequel to Beyond Neanderthal, which takes a visionary view of humanity’s future, provided we can sublimate our Neanderthal drive to entrench pecking orders in society. The Last Finesse is more “now” oriented. Together, these two books reflect a holistic, right brain/left brain view of the challenges faced by humanity; and how we might meet them. All our problems – including the mountain of debt that casts its shadow over the world’s wallowing economy – are soluble.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Thriller

Rating – MA (15+)

More details about the author

Connect with Brian Bloom on Twitter

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

The Curse Giver by Dora Machado @DoraMachado

Chapter Eleven

THE MAN CRAMMED IN THE COFFIN with Lusielle wasn’t much for words. Talking to a toad would have bettered her chances to learn something pertinent, let alone helpful. A toad would have been more forthcoming and less irritating as well.

She didn’t give a hoot about highborn and their bloody quarrels. After all, the highborn had been plotting against each other for centuries. But if she was going to escape with her life, if she was going to survive her plight, she needed to understand what the Lord of Laonia wanted and why. Her life depended on her wits.

“Word in the kingdom is that Laonians are warmongers,” she said.

A snort. “That’s what Riva would like for you to believe.”

“He’s sent away a lot of able men and women to repel Laonian raids.”

“Have you considered it could be the other way around?”

“Why would we want to attack you?”

“I’m not having this discussion with you.”

How wrong he was. “We’ve heard rumors of a few little skirmishes at the river borders over the years,” Lusielle said.

The man’s body tensed in the darkness. “Skirmishes?”

“King Riva always wins.”



“Do you always believe everything that Riva says?”

“Nobody challenges King Riva and lives.”

“Riva rules over a bunch of fools.”

“The kingdom’s cemeteries are seeded with his opponents’ tombstones.”

“He’s a man, not a god,” the lord said.

“And yet he can’t be defeated.”

“Of course he can be defeated. My father defeated him in battle twice, thirty years ago and then again twenty years ago. And less than two years ago, I repelled a full scale invasion at the Narrows.”

“You did?”

“The tyrant can be defeated. Laonia has seen to that.”

Lusielle was hard pressed to believe what the lord was saying, and yet she had to admit that some of what he said made sense. There had been rumors. Thousands of troops had never returned from the river borders. Sons and daughters forsook their mothers for good. Husbands and wives went missing en masse. Food had grown scarce. Even horses had been difficult to find.

Had the king managed to conceal a major defeat from his subjects? Was the Lord of Laonia telling the truth?

She had never heard anyone else speak ill of King Riva, let alone challenge him openly. Everyone she knew was afraid of Riva. Not even the kingdom’s highborn dared to call the king a tyrant aloud.

The Lord of Laonia might be short of words and quick to anger, but these days, a man had to be very brave to speak as he did.

Curse Giver

Award-Winning Finalist in the fantasy category of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards, sponsored by USA Book News

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Fantasy/Dark Fantasy

Rating – PG-18

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Living The Testimony by Deidre Havrelock @deidrehavrelock

6:45 AM Posted by James Noel No comments

My Personal Testimony

I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, as a Cree/Irish borderline Catholic girl, meaning this half-breed rarely went to Mass. However, I did pray every night. I absolutely loved God and believed in Him deeply. Being Catholic, I had heard about Jesus. In fact, my favorite song was “Away in a Manger.” Whenever I was scared, which was often, I would sing this song. But I imagined Jesus to be a fairytale—a fantasy about a perfect God coming to save people. He was just for good thoughts. He was in no way a reality.

Despite my vague belief in Jesus, my relationship with God seemed deep. I would have conversations with my invisible God; I would tell God I loved Him. And I certainly did love Him. Although, I was becoming a bit frustrated with Him because of my dreary life circumstance. You see, my dad drank—a lot. And this stress, along with the stress of my quickly emerging spiritual life, was simply too overwhelming.

As a child I lived with a strange secret. I sensed an ominous yet deeply intriguing spiritual force in my home. I simply assumed a ghost lived in my house. To convolute matters even more, when I was just seven, a man with fire for hair appeared to me in a dream, forcing me to marry him in front of an upside-down cross. He told me in the dream, “Don’t worry, you have been chosen.” From this point on, I completely believed I was married to the devil—irrevocably dark and aligned with evil.

Fortunately, this dream did motivate me to dig my heels in and search for God. I figured only God could get me divorced from the devil. But instead my search led me to Fred, a kind spirit I met in grade four through a Ouija board. Being Cree, spirits were nothing new to me. My mom’s family always talked about spirits. Most of my aunts and uncles were scared of the spirits or ghosts they saw in their dreams and in their houses, but my grandmother told me the spirits were there to help and protect us. I wasn’t quite sure what to believe. I was confused. After all, the spirits I sensed around me and the ones I saw in my dreams scared me, too. But then again, Fred seemed different. This spirit was nice. He was funny. Fred told me through the Ouija board that his job was to protect and watch over me. Eventually, I began telling myself that spirits just felt creepy, but once you got to know them they could be nice. Especially, if you were nice to them.

Fred became my constant companion. But one day, in grade six, after my best friend’s dad tried to molest me and just after my uncle Glen (who had sexually molested me as a small child) came to live with us in our home, I had a nervous breakdown. While left home alone with Glen, I grabbed a butcher knife and ran to my room to hide. Once in my bedroom, instead of picking up my Ouija board to call on Fred, I cried out to God, telling Him I wanted to kill myself. Suddenly I heard a voice speak out loud: “When you are big everything will be okay.” It was God; He spoke to me. He was real.3 I told God I’d hang on until I was big, which obviously, to a twelve-year-old mind, meant eighteen.

By age sixteen, things seemed to have miraculously changed for the better. First of all, my dad was now inexplicably healed from alcoholism. Second, I was introduced by my high school teacher to a New Age transcendental meditation and channeling group that met weekly in the back room of a small bookstore.4 I was so excited. I thought for sure—in this extremely spiritual group—I would find God and get my divorce from Satan.

This group also told me spirits were good and helpful. However, a few sessions later, I found myself strangely altered after my spirit guide Fred, along with another extremely violent spirit, entered my body during group meditation and refused to leave. A member of the group did attempt to help me force these spirits from my body, but the endeavor failed. Consequently, I was kicked out of my New Age group for having bad karma. This meant I was the one attracting these evil spirits to the group—because I was evil. I left the group feeling deeply hurt, misunderstood, and very aware of being “chosen” by the devil.5

A school friend of mine named Doug, who had joined the channeling group with me, then suggested, without knowing anything about my spiritual past, that I study Satanism. His brother had a Satanic Bible.6 After flatly declining, I began dreaming I was killing people. I also dreamed of horrible evil creatures. Rats invading my house was a common dream, and the devil with fire for hair began reappearing in my dreams, growing angrier every time I refused to follow him. When I turned eighteen, I gave up on spirituality. I simply wouldn’t choose Satan and God had failed to show up and save me.

When I was twenty-two years old, now bulimic/anorexic, depressed, and suffering from intense back pain, my life took an unexpected turn when at work God surprisingly spoke to me again saying, “This is the man whom you shall marry.” That man was DJ, a young man who worked in the same office as I did. Eventually DJ and I began dating, and even though we seemed to have nothing in common—because I was convinced that God had sent him to help me—on our third date, I opened up to him, describing to him my nightmares and my spirit guide, Fred. Of course, I worried DJ might consider me crazy, but instead he said, “I’m here to help.”7

It was a few weeks later that DJ opened up to me, explaining how he believed in Jesus. He told me he believed Jesus was alive. He told me Jesus could heal me and save me; and because he was God’s actual Son, he was the gateway to knowing and experiencing God. DJ asked me to simply trust Jesus.8

But I was more than a little doubtful. In fact, his Christian beliefs made me furious. It seemed idiotic for anyone to believe that a childhood fairytale could be true, and it seemed positively arrogant that DJ thought he knew and understood God. After all, why couldn’t God just save me Himself? What did He need Jesus for? Why was Jesus so important? I argued with DJ about the relevance of Jesus many times. Then one night, after arguing about Jesus yet again, my back flared up with pain. DJ asked if he could pray for me. I was uncomfortable with this but thought, What will it hurt?

As DJ prayed for me, particularly when he asked me to be healed “in the name of Jesus,” my back pain sharply escalated—then the voices began. It was just like during my channeling days. Spirits stirred inside me wanting to speak. Except this time they were enraged. As DJ continued praying, my body contorted as my muscles tightened; a low growl came from my lips. Within seconds, a thick black mass pulled out from my back and hovered above us. I remember huddling against DJ, whispering, “What is that?”

“It’s evil,” he said.

I was terrified. DJ, however, immediately told the evil spirits to “leave, in the name of Jesus.” Surprisingly, the blackness retreated back down inside me. I was horrified and confused, crying and shaking. I didn’t understand I was possessed. All I knew was that Fred and another spirit were living inside me; they were angry, extremely strong, and they absolutely hated the name Jesus.

DJ, now with clear confirmation that my problem was actually demonic possession, had to find help, but where was he to go? He wasn’t sure if his church leadership would believe him. DJ then met with a Christian girl, Audrey, who also worked in our office.9 She and DJ decided to bring me to her church. They hoped her pastor could pray for me and expel the evil spirits.10

DJ convinced me to attend a service. However, shortly after arriving at the church, I found myself running from the service after voices in my head told me to kill the pastor. I remember this pastor was preaching about Jesus being able to heal. The whole service felt strange and uncomfortable to me, but DJ convinced me to go back to this church two more times. Each time I returned, the strength and rage of the voices grew and my strange back pain returned. Finally, much too terrorized and confused to go on, I refused to go back. I told DJ talking about Jesus aggravated my problems, so the solution was obviously not to talk about him.

Living the testimony

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Genre – Christian Living

Rating – G

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The Colors of Friendship by K. R. Raye @KRRaye

6:45 AM Posted by James Noel No comments

Moving On

Lance flicked his wrist and checked his watch.  Yes, 5:00 p.m. on the dot.  With a smile he knocked on the girls’ dorm room door ready to tackle their English study session.  Even though they each pursued different majors: Melody, Communications; Imani, Chemical Engineering; and he studied Business; they all made a vow at orientation to align their core Freshmen classes and liberal arts electives whenever possible. 

He heard movement behind the door as one of the girls checked through the peephole and then Imani threw open the door.

Lance smiled and landed a peck on her cheek before he strolled inside. 

The phone rang and Imani shoved him towards it.  “Could you get that? It’s my mom,” she said heading towards the bathroom she shared with Melody and the two girls in the connecting room. 

Colors of Friendship

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Genre – New Adult, Contemporary

Rating – R

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Friday, December 27, 2013

#AmReading - Live by Night by Dennis Lehane @dennis_lehane

8:30 PM Posted by James Noel , No comments

Live by Night by Dennis Lehane


From Gone, Baby, Gone to Mystic River to Shutter Island to The Given Day, the phenomenal Dennis Lehane has proven himself to be one of the most versatile and exciting novelists working in America today—whether he’s breaking new ground with uniquely inventive psychological suspense, redefining the detective story, or bringing a bygone era to life with sweeping and masterful historical fiction. He’s back with Live by Night, an epic, unflinching tale of the making and unmaking of a gangster in the Prohibition Era of the Roaring Twenties.

Meticulously researched and artfully told, Live by Night is the riveting story of one man’s rise from Boston petty thief to the Gulf Coast’s most successful rum runner, and it proves again that the accolades New York Times bestseller Lehane consistently receives are well deserved. He is indeed, “a master” (Philadelphia Inquirer) whose “true literary forefathers include John Steinbeck as well as Raymond Chandler” (Baltimore Sun). And, “Boy, does he know how to write” (Elmore Leonard).

Author Interview – Lorhainne Eckhart @LEckhart

10:15 AM Posted by James Noel , , No comments

Image of Lorhainne Eckhart

What book genre of books do you adore?

I love two well written romance, and romantic suspense.

Is there any books you really don’t enjoy?

Yes, unfortunately  I do not read science fiction.

What else do you do to make money, other than write? It is rare today for writers to be full time…

Guess what. I am a full time writer and it has been lucrative for me. I make a very decent income just from writing. And there are many successful Indie Authors that will tell you the same thing.

How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?

I use laptop write, because that way I can write wherever I am.

Where do you get support from? Do you have friends in the industry?

My fellow authors and of course my loyal fans who are absolutely the best. And I do read and answer every email I receive.

Lorhainne Eckhart

How do you tell a man there is something wrong with his child?

THE FORGOTTEN CHILD a kindle bestseller in romance series and westerns.
And Book #1 of Finding Love ~ The Outsider Series.
This is by far one of the best books I have read. Lorhainne Eckhart proved herself yet again  by pulling you in with a heartfelt story and keeping your attention with the passion that fills   the pages. ~ ROMANCE JUNKIESA Real Tear Jerker: Omg, I loved this book. I stayed up all night trying to finish it. I cried,  My heart broke, I have an 18 year old with autism. This would make a fabulous movie…  Tammy

He wasn’t looking to love again. But what he got was a woman who shook his lonely bitter world upside down, and touched him in a way no other woman could.

Emily Nelson, a courageous young mother, ends a loveless, bitter marriage and strikes out on her own. She answers an ad as a cook and live-in caregiver to a three-year-old boy on a local ranch. Ranch owner Brad Friessen hires and moves in Emily and her daughter. But Emily soon discovers something’s seriously wrong with the boy, and the reclusive, difficult man who hired her can’t see the behavior and how delayed his son is. So Emily researches until she stumbles across what she suspects are the soft signs of autism. Now she must tell him, give him hope, and help him come to terms with this neurological disorder–to take the necessary steps to get his child the help he needs.As their lives become intertwined, their attraction is unavoidable–a connection sparks between them. But just as they’re getting close, Brad’s estranged wife, Crystal, returns after abandoning the family two years earlier. Among the shock and confusion is one disturbing question Brad can’t shake: How does Crystal know so much of his personal business, the inner working of the ranch, and Emily’s relationship with his son?Crystal must’ve had a plan, as she somehow gains the upper hand, driving a wedge in the emotional bond forged between Brad, Emily, and the children. The primary focus for care and therapy of three-year-old Trevor is diverted. The lengths to which Crystal will go, the lies, the greed, just to keep what’s hers, are nothing short of cold and calculating. Emily’s forced out of the house. Brad fights to save his boy, to protect what’s his, and struggles over his greatest sacrifice–Emily, and the haunting question: Has he lost her forever?

“Brilliant, there is no other word for it, heart grabbing, heart warming, gut wrenching, well written well researched, wanted to read it over & over again.” Amazon Reviewer – Maureen

BLACK RAVEN’S REVIEWS - Ms. Eckhart has crafted a delightful story with engaging  characters, enough drama for a Hallmark movie, and enough unconditional love to last a life  time.  ~Rated 5 Ravens and a Recommended Read by AJ!~

READERS FAVORITE *5 Star Review A real page turner ~ fast moving plot ~ a must read! by Brenda C. for Readers Favorite

I didn’t expect I’d fall for the four main characters as hard as I did, but The Forgotten Child is an amazing book, not just for a romance fan like myself, but for single parents who may or  may not have a child with autism. ~ Reviewer ~ Adria

If you love western romances filled with love, passion and drama, then you’ll love THE FORGOTTEN CHILD. This book will not disappoint!

Other Romantic Stories from Author Lorhainne Eckhart

Finding Love ~ THE OUTSIDER SERIES in order:


Military Romantic Suspense – The Saved Series

  • SAVED - Growing up, I had dreams that one day I’d fall in love, get married and start a family. Then one night I was taken. But I survived, I escaped, and I was saved. Eric  didn’t see me as damaged. He didn’t see my baby as a monster. He protected me, he kept me safe…he saved me.
  • VANISHED - She thought her nightmare was over…

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Genre – Contemporary Western Romance

Rating – PG

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Brian Bloom – How to research your story before writing your book? @BrianB_Aust

9:30 AM Posted by James Noel , , No comments

How to research your story before writing your book?

Probably the most sensible way to address this question is by way of a case study.  I am in the process of marketing my factional novel The Last Finesse. When it was first conceived, it was to be about nuclear energy and it was to be a “prequel” to my first factional novel, Beyond Neanderthal, that was about over-unity electromagnetic energy.

All I knew was that The Last Finesse was to be about nuclear and, arising from my first novel, I had a mentor who was able to guide me on matters relating to physics in general and energy in particular. So, step 1: Get yourself a mentor if your primary theme is to be about a subject in which you are not an expert.

The first thing I did was I focussed on the fact that there was (and still is) wild disagreement amongst people whom I knew, about the merits/demerits of nuclear. Some people were highly enthusiastic and others were rabidly anti nuclear. Fukushima hadn’t happened yet but those against typically used Chernobyl as their basis for arguing. Those who were pro tended to have a better than average understanding of the science.

Once I understood the parameters, I went to Amazon and ordered five books on nuclear: Two were in favour, two were against, and one was “How to Build a Nuclear Bomb?” I came to understand that, if you have access to enriched uranium or plutonium you can build such a bomb in your back yard, or in a small, undetectable space. Whether you do or not boils down to “trust’. Maybe that fact will influence reader views on whether Iran should be allowed to continue enriching uranium?

I read all five books and, in the process, discovered where my main questions lay. Some of the questions I put to my mentor, but I wanted a different viewpoint. So I sent an email to the Director of Public Communications at the
World Nuclear Association, London.  I looked up his contact details on the internet because I had seen that one of the “pro” books had been published under the WNA auspices.  In my email, I explained to him what I wanted to do and I asked if he would be prepared to give me any guidance and respond to questions – provided I kept the volume as low as possible. He was very co-operative. I discovered that most questions that I posed had answers on the WNA’s website but he saved me from having to wade through the entire site.

Once I understood the “core” issues, I decided to link the story to climate change and I asked my mentor to describe the most outlandish scenario he could imagine. It didn’t take him long. Without divulging any “spoilers” he described a scenario that many climate scientists were genuinely worried about but didn’t want to talk about yet because they’re having enough trouble getting people to jump over the “warming/cooling/its all bullshit” hurdle.

I then asked him to point me a direction to research that subject and his response was to send me about 20 or 30 web links to articles on the subject, ranging from peer reviewed scientific papers to media articles. Any questions I came up with, he patiently explained.

It was at that point that I had a rough idea of what my story was going to be. I wanted the opening chapter to introduce the idea of a naval vessel from the “good guys” to intercept a naval vessel from the “bad guys”. The bad guys would be smuggling nuclear components to a rogue country, so I had to find a rogue country, which turned out to be Burma.

Then I had two separate problems:

  1. I didn’t know squat about the navy or maritime matters and
  2. I didn’t  know squat about Burma

So I decided to cast my net to find contacts who could help me find mentors. It happened purely by accident or good fortune or however you want to describe it. Through one contact, I found a political refugee who was then living in Australia who had spent 11 years in jail in Burma. A mate knew someone who knew someone who introduced me to a retired Rear Admiral and he opened the doors for me to find an adviser within the Australian Navy who could act as my mentor. The key to finding help is to ask for it politely and respectfully. Most people are naturally helpful.

My Burmese mentor advised me on the high level problems of life in Burma (and its history) and pointed me in the direction of a website run by the Democratic Voice of Burma. I also bought a book on the history of Burma. The two together represented pay dirt! The website had specific information on what the junta were allegedly doing to pursue their aim of acquiring technology to build a nuclear bomb. The book explained about Burmese culture and the makeup of the countries citizenry.

The next step was to buy a couple of maps of Burma (now Myanmar) so as to familiarise myself with the layout of that country – both within and in relation to its neighbours – and to get a map that would show the likely route that an Australian ship would have to travel to get to Myanmar. My navy mentor told me that Australia regularly sends ships as far afield as the Persian Gulf and he helped me devise a credible scenario which would enable one of my main characters to travel from Australia and link up with a ship in the area – so as to save time.

I then started to dig deeper and deeper into Burmese culture and life to understand what the citizens of that country were going through. It turned out to be “hell” but the typical tourists were not allowed to see that hell. In particular, Burma is the second largest grower of poppies for heroine in the world, behind Afghanistan.

So, now I had the skeleton of a story. That’s when I started fleshing out my characters. Along the way, as I was writing the story, it became necessary to research other scenes. There’s one scene set in Hawks Nest, where I Iive, which hosted an international wind surfing competition. I went down to have a look, camera in hand, took a couple of hundred photos and got chatting to the organisers and competitors. They were very helpful. I needed to understand travel arrangements, so I went onto the internet and went through the motions booked an imaginary flight. This enabled me to get accurate flight times. I needed to have my character land at a particular airport, so I went onto the web and searched for an aerial image of the airport. I needed a scene that described a particular tourist attraction, so I got hold of a travelogue DVD from a caravan club that described the journey along the way.

And thus the story evolved. It all starts with research and the more research you do the better and more believable your story will be.

But let’s not lose site of the main challenge: The quality of the book boils down to the quality and structure of the story, and how well you communicate it.


The Last Finesse

In the global corridors of power, a group of faceless men is positioning to usurp control of one of the world’s primary energy resources: uranium. Climate change looms large. Luke Sinclair is a young, Australian-born professor of mineralogy and an expert in the nuclear-fuel cycle. Up to now, he’s led a carefree, hedonistic lifestyle.

But things change: renegade North Korea is about to transfer its illicitly acquired nuclear-weapons technology to Myanmar. The CIA wants to block the development. It enlists the aid of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. ASIS commandeers Luke, who quickly discovers there are wheels within wheels. Who has the real power? Who are his real friends? Is the attempt to corner the nuclear market ‘The last finesse’ of the faceless men who are so fixated on their personal goals they’ll risk a planetary cataclysm? Has ethical behaviour become merely an anachronism in the 21st Century gladiatorial arena?

The Last Finesse is Brian’s second factional novel. Both were written for the simultaneous entertainment and invigoration of the thinking element of society. It is a prequel to Beyond Neanderthal, which takes a visionary view of humanity’s future, provided we can sublimate our Neanderthal drive to entrench pecking orders in society. The Last Finesse is more “now” oriented. Together, these two books reflect a holistic, right brain/left brain view of the challenges faced by humanity; and how we might meet them. All our problems – including the mountain of debt that casts its shadow over the world’s wallowing economy – are soluble.

About the Author:

In 1987, Brian and his young family migrated from South Africa to Australia where he was employed in Citicorp’s Venture Capital division. He was expecting that Natural Gas would become the world’s next energy paradigm but, surprisingly, it was slow in coming. He then became conscious of the raw power of self-serving vested interests to trump what – from an ethical perspective – should have been society’s greater interests.

Eventually, in 2005, with encouragement from his long suffering wife, Denise, he decided to do something about what he was witnessing: Beyond Neanderthal was the result; The Last Finesse is the prequel.

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Genre - Conspiracy Thriller

Rating – MA (15+)

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Midshipman Henry Gallant in Space by H. Peter Alesso

6:45 AM Posted by James Noel No comments


The hours in a day were never enough. Each watch, report, and exam seemed like an organized disruption to Gallant’s desire for food and sleep. Each irreverent “Attention Midshipman Gallant” that blared over his head, called him away to some new obligation. A week after re-qualifying, Gallant joined the other midshipmen in an advanced flight training session conducted by Lieutenant Mather.

Mather was going to review the ship’s computer systems in detail in preparation for a mock combat session. While many of the midshipmen were already up to date on the ship’s AI systems, it was an opportunity for Gallant to catch-up.

Mather stood at the head of the compartment at a lectern facing several rows of chairs. He began describing the Repulse’s computer system, “It’s a marvel of Twenty-second Century technology. It provides three levels of operation for each and every important department on board including: navigation, engineering, weapons, environmental, and communications. The first level is the centralized Artificial Intelligence (AI) system. It performs what we call ‘strong-AI.’ Then, the second level includes system operations of individual departments with their own ‘weak-AI.’ They require more human interaction in order to coordinate systems. Finally, the last level is direct human manual control.”

“Officers, this is the strong-AI system nicknamed GridScape.” A three dimensional humanoid holograph form appeared before Mather. ““The avatar image is changeable,” he flipped through a few before settling on a base form. “I prefer this nondescript image for my lectures. GridScape is a wireless grid computer network consisting of over one million parallel central processors performing a billion-billion operations per second. It helps to control operations throughout the ship and its fighter support within a limited range. It coordinates overall control with our technically trained crew. Of course, it has redundant connectivity for reliability; both direct wiring, as well as wireless connections. GridScape is fully capable of independent automatic operation for most routine operations and many emergency responses that the ship may be required to perform.”

Sandy Barrington stood up and asked, “What happens when there’s battle damage, sir?”

“In the event the strong-AI system is damaged, the weak-AI computer systems take over local functional operation. Of course, every device can be switched to manual operation as required. Also, all crew members have their comm pins. They can connect to local resources that in turn can connect to the centralized AI,” said Mather.


Buy Now @ Amazon and Smashwords

Genre – Science Fiction

Rating – G

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Michelle Rabe – Why Book Covers are So Important @michrabe

10:00 AM Posted by James Noel , , No comments
Why Book Covers are So Important
Think about the last time you went to a book store and were trying to decide which one to buy. What draws you to a particular novel? Is it the title? Is it the recommendation of a friend? Is it a favorite author? Is it the cover? For me it’s the cover. The cover is your book’s first impression in the world. Is the reader going to see something that looks professional and well-thought out? Or are they going to see something that’s definitely been made in Photoshop by someone who might not have done it before?
A book cover is the first impression that your book is going to make, a poor cover can mean that you lose a sale. I work with an artist I know (PLAGUESWORTH) and we start out by discussing concepts. From there he will come back with some sketches and then we work on refining the ideas. We take elements from different sketches and combine them into something that best represents the book.
For Cast in Blood I came in with a lot of different ideas that had a lot of symbolism within the book and while the cover that was created was an amazing piece of art it wasn’t a great book cover. So we went back to the drawing board and started working on something that was still visually stunning but with less going on. We stepped back and looked at other book covers, some that were in the same genre as Cast in Blood and others that weren’t. We talked and came up with key words that became a roadmap. From there PLAGUESWORTH created nine rough sketches which he showed me and from there we refined the idea to the final cover.
In the digital world you have to be sure that your book cover will look good in a thumbnail because most people are going to be exposed to it the first time in that tiny format. This means that the more you have going on with your cover, the less your potential reader is going to be able to see well. While a script font might look beautiful when your cover is full sized is it going to be readable when the viewer is looking at a thumbnail on their computer? Is that really detailed art going to read well or just look like a jumble of lines? These are all questions that an author, especially an indie author, has to ask themselves. Because as much as writing is an art publishing is a business and you have to consider what face you’re showing to the reading public. A good cover can get you one step closer to making a sale and finding a new fan. A bad cover can turn the potential reader away and you don’t want that.
So in short, book covers are so important because they, along with the title, are your book’s first impression you want to make sure that it’s a good one.
Michelle Rabe
To the outside world, Morgan Blackstone is an eccentric business woman. But, in her chest beats the undead heart of a 21st century vampire. Behind the doors of her nightclub, The Dracul, Morgan rules with an iron fist in a velvet glove.
After a long night of wrangling unruly supernatural customers, she is looking forward to some peace… but unbeknownst to her, there are other vampires who are conspiring against her. Just before dawn, in the deserted parking lot, she comes face-to-face with two old adversaries, one of which she had last seen being sealed in a tomb, 400 years before.
Overpowered by her attackers, Morgan wakes inside the lab of an unscrupulous doctor. Held against her will, subjected to experiments, she soon realizes that something has begun to burn within her veins…
Something that she knows will kill her.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Paranormal Urban Fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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Standing Stark: The Willingness to Engage by Carla Woody @CarlaWoody1

6:45 AM Posted by James Noel No comments

Chapter Two:
Beyond Words

I was leading a very mainstream life. While I had some sense of purpose, I additionally had an underlying feeling that something was seriously lacking. Even though there was a recognition of incompletion, I can’t say that it was a conscious realization, more of a sense of things not expressed, blocked or segregated.

The previous year I’d left the large government agency where I’d worked nearly my entire career up to that point. Being out from under bureaucratic constraints lent a certain kind of freedom that I craved, but a large part of my livelihood was still generated through that environment where I returned as a consultant. I felt the rigidity of the organization to the point that it triggered an aversion in me.

What I now know is that whenever we have an unreasonably strong response to something external, something is lurking internally of the same nature. At the time, I recognized what I can only describe as flatness, a lack of real engagement to anything in which I was involved. It’s unlikely that this fact was apparent to anyone but me. I was known for my mind and abilities for pulling people and projects together. To others, my guess is that I appeared actively engaged in my life. After all, I was busy doing what needed to be done, just like most with whom I came in contact.

But I knew something was omitted. Fourteen years earlier, I’d had a major signal identifying my disconnection. Because of a viral infection that attacked my thyroid, I became extremely ill. I was likely within a hair’s breadth of death before I’d had any inkling of the seriousness of the illness. It probably was only through my mother’s mother-bear-like, protective attention and demands to the physician I finally visited that I am even alive today.

A major crisis such as this one is often the impetus that will kick start a revelation—or revolution. After my recovery, I finally comprehended the level of absurdity and danger that the lack of awareness of my own condition brought. I was able to discern that I wasn’t practicing denial in the sense of not wanting to face something. But more so, I was disconnected from my body to the degree that I had been unable to recognize my lack of health. How could I? My life and level of consciousness was weighted in my head, cut off from my physicality and any real experience or attunement other than mental observation.

I heeded a cry from my Core Self, not even knowing of her existence, and sought out meditation. That was an unlikely avenue back then, only because where I was living at the time offered very few opportunities to explore anything even somewhat resembling consciousness studies. With the help of a couple of books, I put together a practice to which I remained faithful.

Over the years, I found myself becoming increasingly calmer and healthier. I knew that the change was due directly to my dedicated focus on meditation. Indeed, I became much more in tune with my body and its messages to me. I began to trust those messages implicitly, telling me when things were right, or not, in my world.

But I knew something was still missing. I remained an observer to a large degree, not a participant. While I’d read of spirituality and various states that told of that realm, I’d had no direct experience. I intellectually knew that Spirit was an aspect of my makeup, but couldn’t quite grasp even the concept of such a reality. And yet there was something underpinning my entire existence that called out for this wholeness. Some part of me deeply desired integration.

When strong intent is present, the means to fulfill it will automatically appear. But I didn’t know this truth at that point in my journey. I only knew that I felt somewhat fragmented, and one day noticed an ad in a professional journal for a retreat with a Peruvian shaman to be held in the Southern Utah desert. Ignoring the fact that my sole idea of camping then was in pensions in large European cities, or that I didn’t even know what the term “shaman” meant, I felt a strong draw in my body to call and register. So, I did.

Four months later, I flew cross-country to Salt Lake City where I was picked up with some other retreat goers and driven some hours south to a remote canyon in the San Rafael Swell. The beauty of the area was incredible and helped to overwhelm my uneasiness of being with people with whom I wasn’t acquainted, and an upcoming event about which I knew absolutely nothing.

When we finally rolled into the makeshift camp, I climbed out of the truck feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension, the two being closely linked anyway. While in this state, I noticed a brown-skinned man making his way toward me. He had dark, wavy hair, a mustachioed, handsome face, and wore a woven poncho. His eyes sparkled. He smiled broadly and wrapped his arms around me in greeting. As he did so, any fear I felt dissipated immediately and was replaced by great warmth swelling from some place inside me, unlike any I’d ever felt. This was the man the sponsors had advertised as a shaman, the person who, in the years ahead, I would come to know not only as a mystic and teacher of the heart, but a cherished friend—Don Américo Yábar. My meeting him was to change the fabric of my entire life. And I had asked for it unknowingly.

Around the campfire that evening, Don Américo introduced the subject of intent through his translator. He encouraged each of us to set our intent that evening for the week that was to follow. I went off on my own to think about what he’d said, the whole idea of intent being a slippery one, at best, that I had a challenge grasping. However, I decided that I must have set my intent, at some level, before I even came. That was what pulled me to the retreat not even knowing what it entailed. I wanted to be joined. I wanted direct engagement. I wanted integration of my mind, body and spirit. I told no one.

The next morning held the usual gorgeous, blue desert sky. The group had hiked some distance from our camp and found a natural rock amphitheatre. We made ourselves comfortable in the shadows of the boulders, out from under the Utah sun which was already getting quite warm. Don Américo began to speak. I don’t remember now exactly what he said. I was being lulled by the lilting rhythms of his and his translator’s vocal patterns that took the meaning of the words to some unconscious level.

Suddenly, he stopped and gazed intensely at me. He motioned for me to come to the middle of the circle where he stood. Under normal circumstances, I would have done so reluctantly, if at all, not being comfortable “exposing” myself to others in that way. In that case, however, I felt completely at ease.

I approached him. He stood directly in front of me only about eighteen inches away, his liquid brown eyes locking onto mine. It was as though he was channeling pure love directly into my being. Both of his hands hovered right outside my body at the chest level.

Making a motion of pulling apart outside the heart center, he said, “The way to see is with the body’s eye.”

I felt what I could only describe as a sweet welling in that energy center that began to undulate, creating a rippling effect.

He moved one hand up to my forehead. Making a wiping motion in my subtle energy field, he proclaimed, “Not the mind’s eye!”

I felt something shut at that level, all the while the heart energy continued to reverberate. I was unaware of anything other than large waves of effervescent warmth that seemed to echo silently, returning from the stones surrounding us, further intensifying the awakening. People seated around us gasped and murmured. I have no idea how long I stood that way. I do not know how I found my feet to return to my seat. I do not recall what occurred the rest of the day.

I was opened. I was filled. I’d had my first direct experience—beyond words.


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Genre – Nonfiction, Spirituality

Rating – PG

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Author Interview - Caroline Kennedy @StephenWardBook

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel , , No comments


I have worked in Bosnia and Croatia during the war, helping to set up a refugee camp for children and their families from all sides of the conflict. I have worked for an organization for refugees with disabilities, setting up a programme in Azerbaijan for many refugees and IDPs who required surgery for them to lead a less dependent life. I have worked as a journalist, a radio producer, a TV host and a community theatre director. Most of my jobs have brought me more pleasure than money. But that never worried me. I loved my work. And that’s what mattered most to me.


I am an insomniac. Even when I was a teenager and all my friends stayed in bed all day, I only slept 3-4 hours a night. Nothing has changed since then. I feel fortunate if, on the very rare occasion, I get 5 hours sleep. When this happens I feel like a different person altogether. And it has never ceased to annoy me when people tell me: “I need at least 8 hours sleep a night. But you obviously don’t need it!” Let me tell you here and now – I DO need sleep. Most days I feel drained and exhausted before the day has even started which, in my case, can be 4am. Three hours sleep a night is not enough for anyone. I know. It certainly isn’t enough for me. How I would dearly love just once in my life to sleep a full 8 hours.


I have to say I am extremely grateful to the author, David Yallop, and my co-author, Phillip Knightley, both of whom immediately saw the potential of my research about Stephen Ward. It took them no time at all to realize I had proved conclusively that an innocent man had been framed and that Ward’s trial was, possibly, one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in English legal history.


I have to confess – I currently write with a laptop where it is supposed to be, i.e. on my lap. I find this is the least stressful way for me to write. Sitting on a sofa is how I can both relax and concentrate at the same time. I have written at a desk before but at the moment I don’t have one large enough to accommodate my laptop, my printer and all my research papers. So I find if I spread all my papers around me on the sofa and on the coffee table in front of me, I can see everything and pick out what I need with ease rather than shuffling a large pile of papers stacked up on a desk.


The origin of the book was way back in 1984 when I was commissioned to research a film about the “Profumo Affair”. After 12 months researching the story I realized I had far too much new material for simply a film. I knew I had the makings of an important book. And I knew I had a story, a very different story from the accepted story of the day. Retired police officers who had worked on the Stephen Ward investigation spoke to me for the first time. So did most of Ward’s surviving friends who had retreated into complete silence following the trial. Retired MI5 and FBI officers also agreed to talk to me, something they had never done before to anyone. From these more than 80 interviews I came to the conclusion that Stephen Ward had been framed – by the government of the day, the police force, the security service and the judiciary. The book that came out of this research was published 25 years ago under the title, “An Affair of State” and it became a number one best seller. This book, “How the English Establishment Framed Stephen Ward” is an updated version of that book, using material that my co-author and I obtained since the original publication in 1987.

How The English Establishment Framed

“How the English Establishment Framed Stephen Ward” is a major expose of a government cover-up that has lasted half a century. It is a powerful story of sexual compulsion, political malice and ultimate betrayal. A number-one bestseller when it came out in 1987 under its original title, “An Affair of State”, the book reveals never-before-heard testimony that has been uncovered by the authors in the years since the scandal broke. Using startling new evidence, including Ward’s own unpublished memoirs and hundreds of interviews with many who, conscience-stricken, have now spoken out for the first time, this important account rips through a half-century cover-up in order to show exactly why the government, the police forces, the Judiciary and the security forces decided to frame Stephen Ward. Stephen Ward is now the subject of an upcoming Andrew Lloyd-Weber musical and this book offers a wider perspective on its complex, central character as well as a broader insight into one of the greatest scandals of the past 100 years. As the authors’ research reveals, Ward’s “trial of the century” was caused by an unprecedented corruption of justice and political malice which resulted in an innocent man becoming a scapegoat for those who could not bear to lose power. This is an epic tale of sex, lies, and governmental abuse whose aftermath almost brought down the government and shook the American, British, and Soviet espionage worlds to their core. With its surprising revelations and meticulous research, Ward’s complete story can finally be told.

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Genre – Politics, Espionage, Scandal

Rating – PG-16

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