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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review: Emma's Secret by Steena Holmes

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel No comments
Emma's SecretEmma's Secret by Steena Holmes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you were to talk with the author, what would you want to know? Why did she choose to keep the connection with Jack? He did not question his wife's actions and dementia or not, her actions brought a lot of grief to another family so why maintain this connection that caused so much sadness in the first place.

Which character did you like best? Peter. He does everything he can to fix what has happened and often pushes himself more because he feels like he is not doing enough. I think we all need more like him and he needs to give himself a break.

Consider the ending. Did you expect it or were you surprised? I wasn't surprised but a lot of this book left me conflicted. Not because it was a bad story, it's very well-written. It was the way Steena Holmes brought each character to life, introduces them to the reader and then forms such a close connection to the point that when they break down so do you. I wanted everyone to be happy, and yet, deep down I knew that wasn't going to happen.


Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.

View all my reviews

Steena Holmes – 10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Being an Author

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Being an Author

by Steena Holmes 

  1. Get ready to invest: 3 laptops later, I wish I had bought a MacBook in the very beginning and discovered Scrivener. It has literally changed how I wrote and in a good way.
  2. Patience is a skill I would need to learn and fast.
  3. The way my beta partner writes might not work for me, and that’s okay.
  4. Find a good chiropractor and become their new best friend.
  5. Not everyone will be happy with your success. And by ‘not happy’ I mean jealous, rude and will tear you apart publicly. Don’t take it personal. Just smile and realize it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.
  6. Just because I wrote it doesn’t mean it should be published. That goes for my first, fifth and tenth book. Not every book needs to be published.
  7. Just face it – your family will not buy your book. And that’s okay. In fact, you should probably just forget about that all together.
  8. Suck it up and learn how to promote and market your books. Don’t rely on your publisher or friends to do it for you. And be prepared to be surprised at how much you like doing this. Yes, it will shock you.
  9. Not every idea is a great idea – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it first. Just be open to failing – fail forward – it’s the only way you’ll learn and grow as a writer and as a person.
  10. Get ready for your dreams to come true – because it will happen!

For two years, Megan, Peter, and their two older daughters, Alexis and Hannah, dream of nothing but being reunited with the family’s youngest child, Emma, who was kidnapped just before her third birthday. When Emma is miraculously found living with an elderly couple just miles from the family’s home, they are hopeful that her return will heal the wounds her disappearance created.

But Emma is vastly different from the sunny toddler they remember. She barely remembers her parents or her older sisters. She is quiet and withdrawn, and, worst of all, longs for the very people who kidnapped her.

Megan is consumed with bitterness, while Peter works later and later nights in the company of his gorgeous business partner. And in the middle of everything, Megan’s best friend has become suddenly distant and secretive.

Then a chance encounter in town leads to a secret that changes everything again for Emma. And Peter must decide between the happiness of his youngest daughter and the trust of his family.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Women’s fiction

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with Steenah Holmes on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.steenaholmes.com/

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Orangeberry Free Alert - £6.19 per Witching Hour by Joanna Mazurkiewicz

2:30 PM Posted by James Noel No comments

£6.19 per Witching Hour - Joanna Mazurkiewicz

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Paranormal Romance

Rating - PG13

4.4 (7 reviews)

Free until 30 June 2013

Julia Taylor works as a recruitment consultant for Paranormal Personnel in London. Her days at work seem normal. She sees clients that regularly are looking for work; she searches for new vacancies, updates CVs and visits employers.
Everything is pretty ordinary for her, apart from the fact that Julia is half elf and Paranormal Personnel is not an ordinary recruitment agency at all because all jobless supernatural creatures come to the agency to look for work. Fairies, vampires, witches, hags, wizards, mermaids, elves, giants and trolls, they all need to find employment, and during this economic climate, this seems pretty challenging.
Julia doesn’t want her life to be complicated, but when her day is interrupted by the shapeshifter with the chain saw, she just has to deal with him as she always does. She is normally calm, confident and is not afraid to stand up for herself, but when the meeting with Nathaniel’s Corporation goes not as well as she had hoped, she wants to bury herself under the ground and die.
Then, to make matters worse, Mr. La Caz gets under her skin, lighting up a fire inside her. She accidentally reads his thoughts and learns that he craves her; he wants to suck her dry, but she is convinced that he is not even a vampire.

Orangeberry Book of the Day – 100 Powerful & Proven Money Making Ideas by Craig Randall

2:00 PM Posted by James Noel No comments

Over 100 Money Making Ideas!

Want To Make Extra Money? Work For Yourself? Get Control Of Your Financial Life?

It all starts with one idea. That is all you need to get started today with changing the rest of your life.

In “Powerful and Proven Money Making Ideas” you will learn what Craig Randall took months to learn when he set out on this same quest of his own.

Change Your Finances Forever and for the Better

Being able to work for yourself, being an entrepreneur, or just needing to earn some extra part-time income can be a life changer for many people. But where do you begin?

The simple truth is that you need to start somewhere. Take that first step. And for most, the first step is discovering what are the opportunities available.

This book is a compilation of over 100 different ideas that can help you find the path for changing your financial future.

Real Ideas for Real People That Require Little to No Money

This is an idea book and as you read it, you will see that the author tried to get as many ideas out to you as possible. In fact, most of these do not require any money to start with, often they do not require any special knowledge or skill, and every one of them is a proven concept. That is, real people actually make a living out of each of them. Most importantly, they are occupations where you can be your own boss, if that is what you want. The author does not promise the world, and does not tell you how to start or run a business, but he does deliver over 100 ideas for less than a cup of coffee.

With over 100 ideas this book is for:
- Stay-at-home parents looking for part-time extra income
- Someone who is unemployed and needs quick income
- Anyone who wants to be in business for themselves
- People with big dreams but have little to no money
- Do-it-yourselfers who do not want to be held back
- Anyone unhappy in their current job
- Someone who wants control over their income and future

…And basically anyone who wants to have financial security in the current economy.

Discover Over 100 Ideas for Making Money

Inside this guide you’ll discover:

- Unique ideas for making money such as being an “Hauntrepreneur” or a “Marriage Officiant”

- Self-employed occupations that can pay a lot more than you think such as gardeners who make more than $60,000 a year

- Ways to make money by working outside, working in the kitchen, working with animals, using your phone, using your car, helping others, writing, and dozens of other ideas

- Examples of real people who had creative ideas and made a fortune out of them such as the candle maker who started in his garage and ended up selling his candle making business for $500 million!

- Ideas that normal people can do without requiring special education, degrees, skills, or money. These are income ideas that anyone can take advantage of!

Tips to get started
Brainstorming ideas about how one idea leads to another
The author also provides thought provoking ideas as to how to get started for some of the proven concepts.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – NonFiction / Business

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Orangeberry Free Alert - Artful Dodger - Nageeba Davis

12:30 PM Posted by James Noel No comments

Artful Dodger - Nageeba Davis

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Romantic Suspense

Rating - PG13

4.8 (14 reviews)

Free until 30 June 2013

Romantic Suspense trilogy with the irrepressible, irreverent Maggie Kean!

Take one funny, wise-cracking artist, one gorgeous, sexy detective, throw in a grizzly murder, a little amateur sleuthing, and you have the makings of a wild, romantic, mis-adventure.

Art teacher and sculptor, Maggie Kean, thought she was having a rotten day--burning her toast, stubbing her toe, all before eight in the morning. Things just couldn't get any worse. At least, not until she discovers her neighbor's dead body in her front yard. And it didn't stop there. Before she can claim her innocence, Maggie becomes the primes suspect in the investigation. Now all she has to do is evade the police, clear her name, trap a killer...and deal with one mouth-watering, hunky detective who drives her crazy while making her hormones do the happy dance!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day – For Love or Legacy (Book 2) (Legacy Collection) by Ruth Cardello

1:00 PM Posted by James Noel No comments

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author!

Book 2: For Love or Legacy (Legacy Collection)

Nicole Corisi will lose her inheritance if she doesn’t find a way around the terms of her father’s will, but she will have to partner up with her estranged brother’s rival to do it. As pretense becomes painfully real, Nicole will have to choose between Stephan and the family he is driven to destroy.

Stephan Andrade has been planning his revenge ever since Dominic Corisi unscrupulously took over his father’s company. With Corisi Enterprises gambling its reputation on the success of a new software network for China, Stephan finally has his chance to take back his legacy. Dominic’s younger sister, Nicole, asks Stephan for his help and provides him with an opportunity to exact his revenge on a personal level.

It all goes smoothly until he falls in love.

Book 1: Maid for the Billionaire (Free Download)
Book 2: For Love or Legacy
Book 3: Bedding the Billionaire
Book 4: Saving the Sheikh
Book 5: Rise of the Billionaire

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Contemporary Romance

Rating – R

More details about the author

Connect with Ruth Cardello on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.ruthcardello.com/

Orangeberry Free Alert - The King's Witch: A Short Story Introducing The World of Pangaea by Sondra Allan Carr

10:30 AM Posted by James Noel No comments

The King’s Witch - Sondra Allan Carr

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Paranormal Fantasy

Rating - R

Release Date 20 June 2013

Free until 30 June 2013

Welcome to The World of Pangaea
Sondra Allan Carr introduces her new fantasy romance series, The World of Pangaea, with a 17,000-word short story, The King's Witch. It is followed by the full-length novel, The Beast. All stories and novels in the series may be read as stand-alones. This is a series and not a serialization.
The King's Witch
The Knowledge. It shows her what has been, what will be, and--even more fearful--what may be. Some call it a gift, but Koreen knows better. The Knowledge is a curse.
Her story is a tragic one; The Knowledge has revealed as much. Though she cannot save herself, she may yet save others. Then her sacrifices were not in vain.
An unspeakable evil is about to overrun the earth, while the only man able to defeat the demon hordes remains ignorant of his destiny. The future depends on her ability to convince him of the truth. But will the young king listen? Especially since he has sworn death or exile to all who practice the black arts.
King Armander finds it difficult to believe the vile creature standing before him was the dead king's consort. She seems more demented than evil, and unaware her life hangs in the balance. His sense of justice demands he allow her to plead for herself.
"Can you tell me, Witch, any reason why I should spare your life?"
As soon as she speaks, he regrets his question. She reveals his past, and the dark deed no one else could know he committed. Her knowledge of his secret adds weight to her dire prophecy: that with her execution, he will lose his only ally in defeating the dark forces loosed on his kingdom. His own life, in fact, will be forfeit.
Does he dare defy his own edict to save himself and his people? Can he trust the woman known to all simply as The King's Witch?
Reader's caveat: This story contains a single sex scene that is fairly graphic and may be disturbing to some. Those who prefer to avoid such content and those under 18 please be advised, this story may be inappropriate for you.
Armander's story continues in The Beast.
As he strives to restore his kingdom to its former glory, the witch's prophecies come true in ways Armander never imagined. The years of abuse under the old king have taken their toll on his people--even more so on Armander. His barely contained rage, unleashed at the slightest provocation, has earned him a name whispered behind his back: The Beast.
When Armander learns a neighboring king has plotted his assassination, he demands the king's daughter as reparation. Immediately captivated by the beautiful princess, Armander discovers it is he, in fact, who has become hostage to her charms. As his love for her grows increasingly apparent to those around him, Armander fails to realize Princess E'laiahna has powerful enemies within the palace, men who will stop at nothing to keep her from becoming Queen. Yet only one man can drive her away forever--the one people call The Beast.

Orangeberry Free Alert - Free Alert - For Love And Vengeance by Johnny Ray

8:30 AM Posted by James Noel No comments

for Love and Vengeance – Johnny Ray

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre – Romantic Thriller

Rating – PG13

4.0 (25 reviews)

Free until 2 July 2013

An International romantic thriller that you will never forget.

FOR LOVE AND VENGEANCE

When everyone lies to you—trust your gut instinct

If that fails—start over

For your love deserves the best

And murderous terrorist your vengeance

May God have mercy on their soul

Both the Americans and the Russians think Victoria works for them exclusively. In truth; the Pack, an International Crime Syndicate, brutally controls her while they launder money in America by buying distressed houses for terrorist sleepers. While she executes the perfect escape, staging her death during a shark attack, she makes one mistake—she meets Royce, who worked as a special operative several years earlier, the night before disappearing.

Royce, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with any American led special operations after he had been lied to in order to keep him focus on his prior mission. His girlfriend had been abducted and brutally murdered earlier while they had kept him in the dark. The last thing he had ever expected was another woman in his life, especially a Russian spy. Furthermore, he never would have believed that she would be the one thing that would encourage him to finish a mission that he should have taken care of the first time.

Royce is well trained on how to discover the truth, so although Victoria’s apparent shark attack was well conceived he knows better. He had used the life of a surfer bum for years as his cover. The more lies he uncovers, the more suspicious he becomes until finally he feels like he has little choice. His prior operation was so top secret even the CIA were told nothing He didn’t need them then, and he sure the hell didn’t need them this time either. The last time it was for country—this time it was going to be personal.

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Evergreen by David Jester

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel No comments

1

Sheila Haynes woke that morning to a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach, the place where butterflies and insecurities wander. She hadn’t drunk the night before, hadn’t eaten anything that might have given her a suspect stomach.

She walked to the bathroom on high alert, tried to recollect her dreams as she showered -- hoping for a memory of something that could have put her in such a state of anxiety. It didn’t occur to her until later, after she’d dried, dressed and prepared for breakfast, that the root of her unease was her daughter, Siobhan.

She usually woke to the sound of the fifteen year olds music, or the chatter of her teenage prattle on her phone as she kept her friends up to date on how little each of them were doing. The bass of the music or the sound of her voice penetrated through the two-bedroom mobile home like rain on a tin roof. Sheila was often forced to listen to the latest trending tune or to her daughter’s newest celebrity crush. That morning she hadn’t heard a whimper.

She made herself some toast, trying to enjoy a breakfast in silence but feeling incredibly uneasy about it. Her daughter was a pain, most teenagers were, but she loved her. She was a loving child, showing more compassion, empathy and respect than many girls her age. Yes, they had their rows and yes they had their fall outs, but they loved each other. They’d been each other’s rock ever since her father, the bastard with the unfaithful eyes and wandering penis, walked out six years ago.

She made Siobhan a slice of toast and a cup of tea, took it to her bedroom with a smile on her face.

Siobhan wasn’t there and their home was small, there was nowhere else for her to be.

The bedsheets were ruffled, disturbed, but it wouldn’t be the first time she hadn’t made her bed. Her clothes from the previous day were still strewn across the floor.

She put the plate and the cup down, held a hand to her uneasy stomach. She checked for Siobhan’s mobile phone, she would never leave home without it -- she would feel like she’d lost an arm if she didn’t have it stuffed in her back pocket or clasped firmly in her hand.

The phone was under the bed, dropped to the floor and kicked underneath. Sheila took it out, checked the messages for a clue, a sign. There was nothing of note.

She began to feel worried. Her heart was thumped in her chest, she could feel her pulse in her neck as her blood threatened to leave her body. She mumbled a small prayer, made the sign of the rosary and left the house, deciding to quiz the neighbours.

She stopped on the doorstep, her heart caught in her throat.

Siobhan was on the ground, twisted like a discarded doll at the foot of the steps. Sheila made a noise, a half-scream, half-shout. She toppled forward, her legs giving way. She bounced and rolled down the three metal stairs that led to her door, stopped on the dewy grass beneath, managed to remain upright on wobbly legs.

Neighbours heard the noise and began to filter out from the surrounding caravans, swarming out of the densely populated park where everyone’s garden was everyone else's. They stopped when they saw the body, some shuffled forward, others moved back. Some beckoned people to the scene; others wanted, tried and failed to make it to Sheila to comfort her.

Sheila screamed until her throat ripped raw; until her lungs expelled their last, exhausted breath; until the blood of those watching ran cold. The noise would be her last, torn by grief she would never utter another word, wouldn’t be able to summon the emotion, the enthusiasm, to offer anything more for anyone else. Her screams would live on in the nightmares of those that had heard.

She dropped to her knees. The pale flesh on her pointed kneecaps dug into the soft mud, the sucking sound of the impact audible in the aftermath of the faded torment. She reached for her daughter’s head, held it in the crook of her arm like she had done so many times before.

She was cold, colder than she’d ever been. Her face was hers -- the same face that had grinned many a cheeky grin; smiled many loving smiles and kept her proud mother happy -- but it was colder, whiter, emptier. A small trickle of blood seeped out of her blue lips; Sheila wiped it away with a thumb, kissed her cold lips and then dragged her head close, burying her silent sobs into the withering, blood-stained locks.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Horror

Rating – PG13

More details about the author & the book

Connect with David Jester on Twitter

Author Interview – Mark LaFlamme

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

What is your favorite food? Probably pizza, and do you know why? Because pizza is humble. It doesn’t demand that you use a fork or a spoon or even a plate. You pick it up, take a bite, chew and swallow. It’s good steaming hot and it’s good cold. Pizza is there when you’re ready to eat. You don’t have to make a big production of getting to the table, arranging your silverware just so and all of that. Eating kind of annoys me in general because it’s such a time sucker. Two or three times a day, you have to drop everything and get your starving body to a food source. I mean, yeesh. I thought someone would have invented food in pill form by now. In the meantime, there’s pizza.

What’s your favorite place in the entire world? Los Angeles, California. I didn’t even have to pause to think about that one. I love LA, just like the song says. It’s warm, it’s charismatic and it’s storied. I love the beaches of LA, but I also love the shabby streets where the characters are always out in force. It’s my ardent dream to end up in Los Angeles, and the sooner the better. If any of your readers have spare rooms, pull out sofas or even just a humble tool shed, have them call me ASAP.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing? My early days were not always happy and often, I retreated into writing. Sometimes I read some of my early stuff – wild stories and even bits of verse written when I was 11 or 12 – and it’s like some psychological profile. There’s a lot of dark stuff in there. I think most writers have some well of darkness they dip into once in a while. That’s probably why some of us drink like fish.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? When I was 6 or 7, I found myself staring out my bedroom window and into the cold dark of Maine winter. There were several feet of pristine snow out there but I saw a set of footprints zigging and zagging across the back lawn. Very mysterious. It suddenly occurred to me that I should write a story about those tracks, and I did. I don’t know what happened to that story (I think I gave it a real spiffy title like “FOOTPRINTS IN THE SNOW!”) but it felt good to write and it became a regular habit. The very next story I wrote was about a little boy who discovered a severed head beneath his bed – a head that talked to him and one which no one else could see. Come to think of it, I probably could have used therapy.

When and why did you begin writing? I was 6 or 7 and the whole world seemed strange. Everywhere I looked, there seemed to be a story waiting to be told. When I had bad dreams (I had a lot of those) I struggled to describe them verbally, so I took to putting them down on paper. I loved similes as a means of describing things. Some days, I did nothing more than think of new similes to unleash into my next work. Some of them were truly horrible: “Slippery as a dog swimming in Ovaltine,” or “hot as pizza cheese stuck to your chin.” If I’d had an editor back then, he or she would have swatted my nose with a rolled up newspaper.

Jack Carnegie has developed a head for numbers – a true savant who was just an average teenager a day before. Jack Deacon builds things, from self-propelled drones to goggles that can see through walls.

Jack Van Slyke awakes with an ability to speak a half dozen languages.Jack Gordon discovers he is a master of the martial arts, just when he needs it most.

All over the country, young men are finding that they have special skills, areas of expertise that appeared out of nowhere. They’re confused. Baffled. Maybe even dangerous.

And they’re all named Jack.

After experiencing adventures on their own, the Jacks will come together in the deserts of Arizona. There, they will set out on the quest to find out what has happened, becoming a multi-talented task force with not a single clue why.

But answers are coming – chilling revelations about their own minds and about new terrors that imperil the world. Together the Jacks will have to make a decision: drift apart and return to being careless teenagers? Or band together and fight a rising evil that threatens not just the Jacks, but the world.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – YA / Thriller

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with Mark LaFlamme on Facebook

Website http://marklaflamme.com/

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day – Killer Work from Home Websites by Lee Evans

1:00 PM Posted by James Noel No comments
What’s in This Book?
Killer Work from Home Websites: Blogging, Website Design, Website Business, Website Building with SBI! Site Build It! Make Money Online details my journey, and the journey of everyday SBI!ers, who have found a way to build a successful website, and sustainable business, that allows us to fulfill our dream of working from home.
SBI! is a phenomenal online website builder, and worldwide community of users, who have discovered the business and site building capabilities of this awesome technology. For those who follow me through my Killer Work from Home Jobs series of books, this book details the path I took, and the web building technology I chose, in my effort to accomplish my goal of making money online – for life! Thousands of people have chosen SBI! Site Build It! website builder to host their blogs, websites, ecommerce sites, info sites, travel sites and more.
What is This Book About?
Killer Work from Home Websites: Blogging, Website Design, Website Business, Website Building with SBI! Site Build It! documents the specific research I conducted, and the astoundingly simple SBIer stories that influenced my decision, to become part of this global community of business owners, who have chosen SBI! to host and build their blogs, websites, and their dreams.
Do you want to work from home?
Do you want to make money online?

Do you want a website designed according to your terms?

Do you want to build a business that could finance your life?
Killer Work from Home Websites can help you build a website and a business that can change your life.  It changed mine.
Who Needs to Read this Book?
Killer Work from Home Websites: Blogging, Website Design, Website Business, Website Building with SBI! Site Build It! is for people who are passionate about working from home. SBI! is a website design and website building technology that can just about support anyone’s dreams. Looking for a get rich quick scheme? This is not for you.
SBI! is for everyday people, who have everyday goals. Like administrative assistants, typists, travel lovers, realtors, accountants, or others, who want to offer their services online. It’s for creative crafters, artists, jewelry makers, and more, who want to sell their wares. It’s for writers, app developers, and others who create digital e-products. Have a band to promote? Are you a salesman, a doctor, a lawyer? SBI! is the technology for you.
Site Build It! is for entrepreneurs, moms, retirees or students. My months of research can help your life look the way you imagined.
You can contact me at Free-Job-Search-Websites.com to get notice of new Killer Work from Home books on Amazon.
You’re not just buying a book, you’re buying my promise I’ll tirelessly provide you with the most up to date info at my disposal. I want to help you make your dream come true!
Learn how to create Killer Work from Home Websites
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre –  NonFiction / Business
Rating – G
More details about the author
Connect with Lee Evans on Facebook & Twitter

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Semmant by Vadim Babenko

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel No comments

Chapter 1

I’m writing this in dark-blue ink, sitting by the wall where my shadow moves. It crawls like the hand on a numberless sundial, keeping track of time that only I can follow. My days are scheduled right down to the hour, to the very minute, and yet I’m not in a hurry. The shadow changes ever so slowly, gradually blurring and fading toward the fringes.

The treatments have just been completed, and Sara has left my room. That’s not her real name; she borrowed it from some porn star. All our nurses have such names by choice, taken from forgotten DVDs left behind in patients’ chambers. This is their favorite game; there’s also Esther, Laura, Veronica. None of them has had sex with me yet.

Sara is usually cheerful and giggly. Just today I told her a joke about a parrot, and she laughed so hard she almost cried. She has olive skin, full lips, and a pink tongue. And she has breast implants that she’s really proud of. They are large and hard – at least that’s how they seem. Her body probably promises more than it can give.

Nevertheless, I like Sara, though not as much as Veronica. Veronica was born in Rio; her narrow hips remind me of samba; her gaze pierces deep inside. She has knees that emanate immodesty. And she has long, thin, strong fingers… I imagine them to be very skillful. I like to fix my eyes on her with a squint, but her look is omniscient – it is impossible to confuse Veronica. I think she is overly cold toward me.

She doesn’t use perfume, and sometimes I can detect her natural scent. It is very faint, almost imperceptible, but it penetrates as deeply as her gaze. Then it seems all the objects in the room smell of her – and the sheets, and even my clothing. And I regret I’m no longer that young – I could spend hours in dreamy masturbation, scanning the air with my sensitive nostrils. But to do that now would be somewhat awkward.

Anyway, Esther arouses me even more than Veronica, perhaps because she is “bi,” as Sara once confided to me. Esther moves like a panther and looks like an expensive whore. Her nipples burn like hot coals, even through her starched white blouse. Her hair shimmers purple black, and her skin is tender like silk, though it looks more like velvet. The moment she comes close I seethe with the desire to touch her. I’ve done so a few times and even apparently got somewhere – she once slapped me in response. Surely it was a game, but I doubt we’ll go much further. Here’s why: now I like Laura from Santo Domingo best of all.

Yesterday, on her evening rounds, she was really hot. Yes, her legs are not so slender and her butt looks too large and heavy, but her whole body radiates passion, a natural lust too difficult to conceal. Cats scatter when they hear her walking, and gawkers turn their heads to stare. Even paralytics and defunct oldsters get horny when they feel her vibes – and I’m no paralytic or by any means too old. She leaned over me as if to arrange the sheet, flashed her huge brown eyes, licked her lips – and I knew I would have her now or very soon. I ran the palm of my hand up her thigh to the narrow moist strip of her thong. And I’m not even sure she was wearing a thong!

Then she teased me with her slim bare foot, gazing at my face with a come-hither look. Too bad she had to leave so quickly – but this is just the beginning, no doubt!

I whispered after her, “Where are you going?” when she reached the door.

“Wait,” I murmured. “Now I won’t be able to fall asleep.”

“Yes, you will,” Laura assured me. “I gave you a good sedative.” Then she added, “Think of me!” And these words held a lot of promise.

I did think about her, and then, in my dream I copulated wildly with a busty mulata. She smelled like Laura – the rainforest, the sea, the sweetest of sour smokes. Likely, from now on I’ll need this mix like a junkie.

It’s two days until Laura’s next shift. Two long days of eager anticipation. I now have another goal for myself.

Thinking about this, I face the window and view the distant mountains. The sun has moved down to the side. Turning my head, I see my shadow again; it’s the only thing marring the perfectly white wall. Soon the sun will shift farther to the south, and the wall will regain pure whiteness, announcing lunchtime.

Then the mountains will change as their colors fade, the contours sharpen and stand out against the sky. The peaks will loom jagged; indifferent and cold. A guard will bring me the newspapers, and I will leaf through them vacantly, scanning the pictures and trying not to get newsprint on my fingers.

Then I’ll do the usual set: some hatha poses, stretching my back and leg muscles; a tantra workout, keeping my balance with my eyes closed; and finally, bandha yama drills so my erection would be harder than a steel spring. I’ll think about Laura – already calling her “Lora” in the northern style. She’ll like that; it may bring us closer. Or, perhaps, we’ll even choose a new name for her.

The peaks will finally grow indistinct in the twilight. Everything will fall silent as dusk turns to night. I’ll draw the curtains, leaving only a crack so the fresh air from the mountains filters into the room. Then I’ll have dinner, drink a half bottle of wine, and begin to compose another letter to Semmant…

Listen! My confinement might last years and years, but I’ll give it to you straight: I am not afraid and have nothing to hide. Let them think I’ve lost my mind, but I know, if anyone has – it’s not me! I’ll tell them something else too: don’t count on it. I’ll say, “Semmant!” It will be like a shout, and yet the softest, the most quiet of words. Only the quietest words work for confessions – confessions of hatred, and even more so, of love.

The white walls surround me for a reason, but I will not crack up here, and he – he is my protector, my healer. Yes, at times I may lose control, and it would seem I’ve exhausted my strength, but I won’t succumb – as I can’t betray him, cannot leave him alone. Neither Esther nor Laura can help me in this – and not Sara, not Veronica. Their minds are somewhere else, I’m on my own, and I’m not that mighty. Take these notes – they reveal my weakness. But it’s still no excuse to abandon them.

I don’t look for excuses – even here, behind these walls, despite the treatments and the constant spying. Oh, I know, very attentive eyes are keeping watch over my writing. I feel them with my back, my skin, and even with my shadow on the wall. But I don’t care; I pay them no heed. I am not posturing or putting on an act. I could simply discard the paper – ball it up, chuck it aside. Even burn it – or I could keep quiet and just stare out at the mountains, which are impervious to any words. But I can’t do it; I have to write, even though it’s so unbearably difficult to get through. It’s so hard to be heard by others who are lost in broad daylight, who are blinded by their inability to see, who suffocate in their own waste. They are all arrogant and infinitely naïve. And me – I’m not so different. I, too, am blind and naïve, and arrogant in my own way. That’s why we speak the same language, saying almost the same thing.

So, day in and day out, watchful eyes see a familiar picture. The papers are scattered across my table; it’s night, darkness, dead silence. I write to him; then I get distracted and write to all of you. My fingers grow numb; at times I shiver with cold. Then the opposite: I’m drenched in sweat – and compose with delirious haste, or sometimes a mere word per hour.

It takes enormous effort, though the story is flawless, its plot coherent and logical. I drew it up myself, right up to the final scene; I started with nothing and ended up with more than I could possibly handle. It’s a great experience, no matter what; it would be foolish to keep it to myself. You may object and laugh behind my back, but I have an answer: I’ll say, “Semmant!” This may raise anger, provoke envy. But time will pass, and you’ll see that I’m right.

He will not become anybody’s hero – he’s not a hero at all. He is not a conqueror, though he knows no fear. You may be tempted to laugh at him as well – yes, his naivety surpasses mine, and yet oddly enough he is wise and discreet. No one’s mockery can change that.

It’s not easy to become his friend. And who would dream of competing with him, feeling overconfident for no reason? Who would dare to take his place? That would be reckless and dangerous. His armor shines with a genuine gleam and yet it cannot save him from any arrow. Yes, one should not expect too much from his shield. And then, I realize, it’s more important for everyone to know: what lies beneath that shield?

I could give a concise answer, but I’ll put it differently: shed your own layers one by one. Shed your clothing, your masks. Wash off the makeup. Take a long, hard look at what you see – can you make sense of it? Do this alone, since it’s embarrassing, indeed. The covers have been thrown on the floor, and the labels have even been cut out of them. All that remains is to look deeper inside, brushing away small details, with or without regret. The trick is to get down to what’s most vital, even if it’s concealed and hidden, locked away. One may grow tired and miserable along the way; and once there, may be left speechless. The unexpected may be found – some strange, unfamiliar things. Who will be able to name them properly? I guess no one, as is always the case. Everybody will be looking around: where is the hint, the subtlest of signs? And then again I’ll say, “Semmant.”

Listen – I admit my idea was different. I had a less ambitious plan. Everything was supposed to turn out simpler. Some may even blame me: I was following the footsteps of evil. And yes, I relied on the blindness of the crowd. I indulged others’ greed, but my intentions were pure; they were good. At least I was unselfish; perhaps that vindicates me somehow, though I seek no vindication whatsoever.

I don’t seek it because I feel no guilt; I’m even proud of myself, pleased. I might have done many things wrong, but now I know where I erred. I recognize the most horrible delusion, which could confound anybody.

Others can learn it too, if they have the patience to hear me out. Which is not likely. But I continue.

Because the only thing that matters is to keep moving forward.

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – NC17

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Author Interview – Tamara Hart Heiner

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

Who designed the cover? Steve Novak! He’s done all my book covers and he’s simply very talented. Love his work!

What was the hardest part about writing this book? I made a mistake when I started the book. I thought I could write a romance. So I wrote the book as a romance. When I finished, I thought the whole story was boring and rather flat. I didn’t want to read it, so why would anyone else? I decided I better stick with thrillers, because that’s what I’m good at. And I threw in a serial killer. It took a lot of work but I’m extremely pleased with the book now!

Will you write others in this same genre? I’ve had enough people threaten my future as a writer if I don’t write more books for this main character that I’ve decided to make a series of the book. Rather exciting, actually. I have an additional four books plotted, but it will be the kind of series where each novel is a story in and of itself, not dependent on the others. Like the Stephanie Plum books.

How much of the book is realistic? The book takes place during modern times in a normal high school with a normal girl. There’s a serial killer, which could very well be realistic. But it also revolves around Jayne’s psychic powers and her more-than-mortal bloodline. Definitely not realistic.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? No, not at all. At least not in this book. My PERILOUS series has lots of life and friend experiences in it.

How important do you think villains are in a story? Extremely! In fact my villains are usually so multi-faceted that they deserve their own story. No book is complete without a villain!

Young adult romantic suspense novel.

Visions of death plague Jayne, who thinks watching her boyfriend die is the worst that could happen to her. But when she witnesses a murder, Jayne finds herself caught up in a dangerous world of intrigue and suspense.

As it turns out, she is not the only one doing the stalking. The killer is on to her, and all of her visions of the dying don’t reveal how her life will end. Somehow, she must stop the murderer before he arranges Jayne’s own inevitable death.

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Genre – YA

Rating – PG

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Blog http://tamarahartheiner.blogspot.com/

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book of the Day – Books Aren’t Just for Reading by Laina Turner

1:00 PM Posted by James Noel No comments

Trixie and her friends, Berklie and Sophie, are excited about the opening of Read/Wine their new business venture of a bookstore/wine bar. All is going well until they happen to find a dead body in the shop and that wasn’t part of the business plan. All signs pointed to Berklie since it was her ex-husbands lover who was murdered. Trixie knew Berklie hadn’t murdered Sylvia so who did?

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Genre –  Romantic Suspense

Rating – PG

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Website http://www.lainaturner.com/

Book of the Day - The Orange Moon Affair by AFN Clarke

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel No comments

ONE


Mojave Desert – October 2012

Flying a helicopter requires a clear mind, concentration, balance and a delicate touch.

Flying a helicopter you are unfamiliar with, in the dark, with two nasty bullet wounds in a body that has not slept in thirty hours, is an exercise in surreal survival. I had ten hours flight time in this model MD 902 Explorer, so it wasn't total guesswork.

I made sure Julie was strapped in tightly and flipped on the switches. There wouldn’t be enough time to sit and let the engines warm up completely. We needed to get airborne before the local police showed up. In the distance beyond the factory building, where the car exploded in the arroyo, a pall of smoke billowed into the moon lit night sky.

Once I got the machine off the ground, stabilised and then flying on the heading Danny had given me, I asked Julie to call him and write down the co-ordinates of the destination, then talked her through entering the figures into the GPS navigation system while I concentrated on the instruments. All I had to do was make sure I didn't hit anything flying at an altitude of fifty feet across the desert, following the route on the EFIS from Mojave to Desert Rock airstrip, wherever the hell that was in the vast expanse of the Nevada desert.

As we flew, the rising sun glimmered just below the horizon to our left. Dark sky turning light blue just before the sun appeared as an orange-white ball throwing shadows across the desert. The distant terrain rose in craggy rock mountains, rising ever higher to about five thousand feet, and I had to fly the aircraft through the narrow gorges maintaining the pretence of a special operations training flight at ultra-low level.

“Can you see if there are any sunglasses in the side pocket,” I asked Julie, feeling my left arm begin to stiffen.

“Here you go.” Her voice sounded strangely distorted in my headphones. Or perhaps it was just my mind beginning to shut down as my body leaked valuable blood onto the seat from the wound in my side.

“Thanks.” I tightened the lock on the collective and flexed my left arm, ignoring the pain, just trying to get some feeling back into it. Estimated flight time was just under an hour and a half, and I wasn't confident of being able to last that long.

“I'm sorry I got you into this,” I said stupidly, as if what I said would make any difference.

“I could have said no.”

“But you didn't.”

“Nope. Don't ask me why, but I didn't.”

“Did you get the bug into the computer before they ambushed us?”

“I did.”

“Well at least one of us accomplished something today. How's your head?”

“Hurts like hell. How's your...?” she paused looking across at me. “Everything?” She laughed. A desperate sound hurled against a bleak outlook.

We hurt more than either of us could describe.

We didn't know what the future held for us, but we laughed anyway as the sun rose across the desert, and I banked the helicopter into the first of the rising mountain ravines.

After an hour throwing the helicopter through the narrow canyons and rocky gorges, I could feel my strength and concentration ebbing slowly away. But that seemed inconsequential in the surreal experience that was the excuse for reality.

Julie massaged her temples, and when she spoke her speech was slow and slurred. I knew she was concussed and slipping into shock.

By 'red-lining' the helicopters engines I could force more speed, but as the sun came up the temperature would rise, and everything could go very wrong very quickly.

But there was no choice.

I inched up the collective, dropped the nose and advanced the throttle a touch, watching the gauges creep toward the danger zone.

Waves of nausea blurred my vision, so I used the only tool I had to sharpen my mind.

Pain.

By wriggling in the seat I could press against the wound in my lower abdomen, not too much, but enough pain to sting my sagging consciousness into wakeful concentration. Now was not the time to sink into peaceful, blissful oblivion. I had a precious cargo to deliver, a woman I loved more than my own life.

At any other time, flying low level through the desert canyons as the sun rose above the horizon, would have been an extraordinary experience. One of those almost vivid adventures that stays in the memory forever. But I wanted this experience to be over as soon as possible.

Every part of my body and soul willed the airstrip into view.

Flying is a slow inevitability.

You know you're going to get there, and yet the more desperate you are to arrive, the more time drags.

Another rising ridge after fifteen minutes of undulating desert, and the sweat dripped down my face, arms and back, seeping into the wounds and causing more pain as my body salts stung raw flesh. I glanced quickly at Julie who sagged forward against the seat harness, semi-conscious, head flopping as the helicopter rose, fell, and banked through the ravines. I just wanted to take her in my arms, hold her and tell her everything was going to be fine, but now was not the time to drift into sentimentality, there was still the task of getting this machine on the ground.

The gauges swam in front of my eyes as I struggled to pick out the speed dial. That and the vertical speed indicator were my guides as we crested the ridge and Desert Rock airstrip lay in front of us just beyond a dry lake bed.

Was it a lakebed or a mirage?

I dropped the collective and pulled back slowly on the cyclic, slowing the aircraft down, establishing an approach to the runway. The speed bled off and I nosed down a little to keep the aircraft's forward speed at forty knots, but my eyes refused to focus properly, and darkness appeared at the corners of my vision as if I was looking through a telescope at an image that kept getting smaller. No matter what my mind was telling my body it wasn't responding, running out of blood and slowly shutting down.

But not before I got this machine on the ground.

Only a few more feet.

Maybe twenty-five, maybe thirty-five, maybe....

I didn't know anymore.

Then I saw the FIM-92 Stinger ground-to-air missile spearing up toward us from a far ridge.

My reactions were slow and for a fatal moment I watched the white smoky trail from the rocket motor arc its way through the sky. I pulled on the collective and kicked the anti-torque pedals to port, almost escaping the oncoming death, but the rocket slammed into the tail boom.

The earth spun in a lazy arc as the helicopter arched over backwards at fifty feet above the rocky desert as I lost control, spiralling to the ground, pieces flying in all directions, the only section remaining relatively intact being the forward cockpit, saved because the main rotor head deflected the impact.

There was no pain, just a smashing, grinding, splintering sound. I felt a violent lurch as my head slammed into the side door, then silence. Almost lying on top of me, held by her seat harness, Julie stared into my eyes, blood dripping from her nose and ears, trying to speak.

“Julie,” I gasped trying to reach up and touch her face, but my arm wouldn't move.

Car engine noises.

Voices.

I was struggling with consciousness.

With reality.

Where was I? What had happened? I didn't know.

Images from the past flashed through my mind.

My father's dead face.

Julie naked on the catamaran.

Julie. My Julie.

Then nothing.

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Genre – Thriller

Rating – PG13

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Author Interview – AFN Clarke

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

What’s your favorite food? That’s tough, I love all sorts of foods – rich curries, simple pastas, fresh fish and seafood.  But I guess one of my favorite rituals is ending each night sitting quietly with my wife and enjoying a glass of good port, a sliver of Stilton cheese with crackers, savoring the taste and letting the activities and thoughts of the day fall away.

When did you first realize that you wanted to become an author? I always wanted to be a good writer but what “made me” into an author was unexpectedly finding myself using words to “get my life back” after the traumas of war.  In the 1970’s I joined the British Army – The Parachute Regiment – and served in different parts of the world. It was being in combat and the subsequent years of recovery having lost my entire large bowel from service in Northern Ireland that dramatically changed my life.  I came out as a very “weathered” 30 year old wanting to make sense of all that had happened to me.  So I starting writing and that outpouring of my soul became my first book Contact. It was a bestseller and I’ve never looked back. Now I prefer writing fiction and the different worlds I can create that way.

What inspired you to write your first book, CONTACT? My first book Contact started out as a way of coming to terms with the world after returning from combat physically and emotionally wounded. I was lost, angry, sad, and felt I didn’t fit in with the so-called “normal world” – what’s “normal” after being at war, anyway?  I wanted people to understand what it was like going out expecting to be shot or blown apart every day.  How we came to terms with the stress, loss of life, fear and boredom.  Wanted families of veterans to understand why their loved ones might be distant, different.  But my primary motivation was to ensure that the lives lost and destroyed, both of soldiers and civilians, counted for something – and that politicians might stop and think long and hard before choosing to go to war.

Was your second book as successful as your first? No, but only because I made a rookie mistake that I’ve never made again. My first book Contact was a bestseller which was great – but I spent time basking in the limelight and enjoying my fame rather than reining in my ego and getting back to work on the second book.  So by the time Collisions came out I had lost a lot of momentum I had gained.  It did OK, but not nearly as well as it could have.  It’s an important lesson for any author. Now that I’ve “written my way back” to being a fulltime author I’m wiser and more disciplined and keep on releasing new books to follow up the last – that consistency is important for readers and for me as well.

Was it easier to write other books after your first book was published? It was easier because I knew I could do it and so the passion and excitement of success was a wave I could ride on and helped my confidence. But in another way it was harder because I became more self-critical rather than just letting the words and story flow.  I thought about it too much and so had to stop myself overanalyzing everything or questioning everything.  So I have learned to stop that kind of thinking while writing and allow the spontaneity and instinct to take over.  I need to feel, in some ways, that every book is the first book, though it comes from a place of deepening experience and expertise each time as I publish more and more books.

This new expanded edition of AFN Clarke’s bestselling and controversial book CONTACT is a raw, visceral, “no-holds-barred” account of combat from one of the men we paid to kill. When first published it caused a furor for its devastating honesty and chilling revelations.

Clarke vividly recounts his experiences of two tours in Northern Ireland (in Belfast and Crossmaglen) as a Platoon Commander with Britain’s elite Parachute Regiment during the blood soaked 1970′s. Soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan comment on how relevant the book still is today, as the dangers, political agendas and religious roots underlying the conflict are eerily and heartbreakingly similar to their own more recent experiences.

Clarke takes us to heart of the action.  We feel what it’s like to live each day with senses on high alert, waiting to be ripped apart by the accuracy of a sniper or a well-hidden bomb.  We enter the private world of soldiers ordered to hold the lines in an ancient quarrel they have little affinity for, but whose consequences are deadly.  We experience their emotions, fear, courage, humor, bravado and the anguish of death.

This expanded edition continues from where the print version ended, revealing the untold nightmare Clarke lived through having nearly died, with half his insides missing, suffering from PTSD and being expected to return to a “normal life”.  A story of the scars of war that affect generations.  Of heartache, courage and hope for peace.

“I am an ex soldier who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and this is an excellent account of what it was like. I only wish we had an officer like Captain Clarke.” pm, 5 Stars Amazon UK“.. its honesty and passion cannot be denied .. Mr. Clarke has sent out a powerful and disturbing early warning signal.” Maurice Leitch, Daily Telegraph.

“..a major contribution to our understanding of war and how people act .. Contact is the work of a brave writer.” Kevin Toolis, Irish News.

“As a civilian it’s hard to imagine what’s it’s really like to be a soldier in combat but this book opened my eyes. I highly recommend it …” KTHuffy, 4 Stars Amazon USA.

CONTACT was reviewed by soldiers who served with Captain Clarke as verification of his recollections.  It was first published in the UK in 1983 by Martin Secker & Warburg, was serialized for 5 days in The Mirror and became an instant best seller. In 1984 it was published in paperback by PAN Books, by Schocken Books New York and made into an award-winning BBC TV film.  And in 2012 came the expanded ebook edition, which all these years later is still selling strong.  Readers outside the UK are invited to visit Amazon.co.uk for soldier’s reviews and comments.

AFN Clarke is a full-time author and writes fiction of various genre – fast-paced thrillers (An Unquiet American), poignant human drama (Dry Tortugas), humorous satire (The Book of Baker Series - Dreams from the Death Age; Armageddon; Genesis Revisited), psychological horror (Collisions); and the Thomas Gunn suspense series (The Orange Moon Affair) with more coming soon. Visit the Amazon Kindle Store or afnclarke.com for further information.

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Genre – Autobiography / Biography & Memoir

Rating – 18+

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Website http://www.afnclarke.com/

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Review: Colorado Mandala by Brian Heffron

5:30 PM Posted by James Noel No comments
Colorado MandalaColorado Mandala by Brian Heffron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Did the plot pull you in or did you feel you had to force yourself to read the book? It pulled me in right away. This book was a touching reminder of the unseen sacrifices that members of the military and their families make so people like us can stay free.

How realistic was the characterization? The characters were realistic and their actions were plausible. Each character is simple but complex because of the secrets they each have and there's the different types of love we see Heffron express through his characters. My message to the author - please don't stop writing, you are beyond talented and it was an honour to read your work.

Did you feel you were experiencing the time and place in which the book was set? The setting was Pike's Peak. It painted a beautiful snowy, romantic setting and I could feel the beauty and magic of this setting.

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

View all my reviews

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Family Magic by Patti Larsen

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel No comments

Chapter One

I batted at the curl of smoke drifting off the tip of my candle and tried not to sneeze. My heavy velvet cloak fell in oppressive, suffocating folds in the closed space of the ceremony chamber, the cowl trapping the annoying bits of puff I missed. I hated the way my eyes burned and teared, an almost constant distraction. Not that I didn’t welcome the distraction, to be honest. Anything to take my mind from what went on around me.

Being part of a demon raising is way less exciting than it sounds.

The bodies of the gathered coven pressed close, shrouded in the same black velvet, the physical weight of their presence making it hard to breathe. I struggled to censor my clichéd thoughts and focus on the task at hand. The glow of other candle flames floated around me, barely lighting faces, enough for a serious case of the creepies. A low hum sounded from every throat, filling the room with an almost physical presence.  I participated half-heartedly, wishing I was anywhere but here, knowing despite my personal preferences I had no choice whatsoever.

The group swayed as one as the hum grew in volume. The first hint of power made its way around the half-circle. I felt my own power being drawn away, connected and shared despite my reflexive attempt to pull free. As much as I suppressed my magic from day to day and refused to use it at all, the draw of the coven and my attachment to it made it impossible to deny.

Totally crappy. Especially since anything to do with magic always made me feel slightly nauseated and off balance.

I wiped a smoke-laced tear from the corner of my eye and blinked at the pentagram etched in the stone at my feet. The lines of the star began to glow faintly blue, the candles at each point flaring as though with the heartbeat of the whole, the breath and life of each and every soul in the room. I wondered if anyone ever checked to see if our hearts really did beat in sync. Wouldn’t that be special?

I stifled a sigh as a tall, elegant form flowed forward from the circle to the center of the pentagram. She swept back the hood of her cloak, her long, thick and perfect black hair a flawless halo around her gorgeous face. Her eyes glowed with joy, cheeks flushed from the rush of energy coming from the coven, her coven. Miriam Hayle was everything every woman wanted to be. Beautiful, graceful, commanding, the perfect witch, the perfect leader, the perfect everything.

My luck? She was my mother.

I blew on the smoke from my candle as subtly as possible while barely managing to still the jiggle starting in my left knee. Somehow I always ended up in exactly the spot where a tiny little breeze pushed the white vapor the wrong way. A part of me was sure it was somehow contrived that way as an extra level of punishment piled on to my particular little corner of hell. And forget the sacrilege of blowing the candle out.  It’s not a whole lot of fun being the center of the displeasure of fifty-odd witches of varying power, so I suffered.

Oh believe me, I suffered. Every day, every moment, every breath. I, Sydlynn Hayle, sixteen-year-old all-American girl, was a witch. My mom was a witch. My grandmother was a witch, if a crazy one. My sister, my mom’s best friend and every single other person in my life, much to my disappointment, fell in that category, with a couple of exceptions. Lucky me. Except I spent my entire life wanting nothing more than to be normal, average, ordinary and just like everyone else.

Hard to do in a family like mine.

So there I was, another Saturday night, no friends, no social life, just the stupid coven and another stupid coven ritual. Could one girl’s life really suck that much?

I glanced down at my little sister as she stared at our Mom, rapt in attention, beaming a smile. Meira glanced up at me, red-tinted skin and amber gaze aglow as the power in the room built, triggering her demon blood. In the ‘real world,’ Meira had to disguise her unusual coloring, her overlarge eyes and cute little horns peeking out of her silky black curls. Within the safety of the family she was free to be herself and I know she loved it.

I always envied my eight-year-old sister her eagerness to embrace her birthright while I simply did everything I could to ignore it. Easier for me, I suppose, with my plain, dark brown hair and ordinary blue eyes, my white skin and handful of freckles. I did what I could not to look the part, to forget our dad was a demon.

Meira grinned at me, her candle’s trail curling perfectly upward toward the ceiling in an endless swirl. I waved at my smoke again, the tickle in the back of my throat and nose getting worse. Meira watched me struggle like she always did. With laughter wrinkling her upturned nose, she waggled her fingers at my candle. I felt her power reach out, the thin film of it forming a delicate tube around the wick. My smoke immediately behaved. She winked before turning back to Mom.

I felt stupid. So that’s how they did it…! Sixteen years of this crap, and it took my little sister taking pity on me to finally get the joke. Of course, if I ever paid attention or agreed to do magic, maybe I’d have known about it a long time ago. But the fact my suspicions were so dead on, that Mom obviously instructed the others to let me figure it out on my own or continue to suffer, made me grind my teeth in frustration. She would do anything to get me to use my talent, short of putting me in danger, and I even wondered about that.

I tried to focus on the stupid ceremony and not my urge to throw the dumb candle in her flawless face.

Yeah, that would go over well.

Mom, either unaware or not caring about my present state of mind, raised her arms, robe falling into a perfect puddle at her feet, revealing her model’s figure in a black satin gown, polished silver jewelry at wrists and throat. She positively glowed with power, vivid blue eyes in rapture. How pathetically stereotypical. I wanted to throw up.

I felt the strength flow out of me in a rush and struggled as I always did to control the weakness in my knees and the slow roll in my stomach. I tried to catch my breath as secretly as possible, furious this always left me on the verge of passing out. Of course, no one else showed any discomfort, just little old me. I guess knowing how to use your magic and being willing to share made the whole transfer easier. That’s me, fight tooth and nail, even to the point of pain.

Sometimes I wondered why I was even invited.

At least I had the diversion of being responsible for my grandmother. She stood next to me, as usual, about as into the whole thing as me, but for different reasons. She hummed softly under her breath, her watery blue eyes crossing and recrossing as she studied the tip of her protruding tongue. She turned to me, wisps of white hair escaping from the edges of her black cloak, fanning back and forth with a life of their own. Her powder white skin fell in crumpled folds, but her expression was pure childishness. She cackled, winning me a silent warning from my mother. I rolled my eyes at Mom before sneaking a caramel out of my pocket and slipping it to Gram. She made a face. Chocolate was her favorite, but I hadn’t time to track some down. Okay, honestly, I forgot and raided the candy dish on the way. I prayed the offering would be sufficient.

Ethpeal Hayle had once been an influential witch. When I was just a baby, an evil coven challenged our family. She stood against them alone, cutting herself off to protect the rest of us. The Purity coven fell thanks to her, but the fight scrambled her sanity. So, I waited for the old woman to make up her mind about the candy and tried to be patient. It wasn’t her fault she was nuts.

I saw the flicker of rejection as her wrinkled old mouth puckered and knew if I didn’t act right then the scene she could create would probably level the house. The fight with the Purities may have left her one fortune cookie short of a combo plate but it did nothing to reduce her power. Knowing I only had one chance, I curled my fingers and started to pull away.

Her hand shot out, dagger-like nails brushing my palm as she snatched the sweet and stuffed it into her face. She grinned at me, nose wrinkling, eyes full of mischief. I tried not to react, knowing yet again we were saved by careful manipulation of my crazy grandmother.

I returned my attention to Mom with some relief as, oblivious to the disaster I averted, she turned slowly, pivoting on manicured toes. I made a face at her fuchsia piggies, just in time to catch her disapproving frown. I could practically hear her whole body screaming at me to pay attention, the little hairs on my arms vibrating from it. I flashed her a half-grimace, half-smile so she would stop. Her expression softened. She turned away. Thankfully. I wasn’t sure how long I could keep up the whole fake happy thing without bursting into flames.

She faced the altar at the back of the room and the life-sized stone effigy of an impossibly perfect and handsome man with large muscles and tiny horns on his smooth forehead. She pushed magical force toward it.

“Haralthazar,” she glided closer to the statue, “we summon you this third night of Power, nine days and nine nights from Samhain Eve, to tighten our bond with you and your realm.” She knelt at the foot of the altar, the picture of the submissive handmaiden. Could she be any more ridiculous? Seriously. “My love, come and be welcome.”

The blinding flash leaping from her to the statue continued to pour out of her in a deep blue rush of light. I turned my head slightly to the side, squinting against the glare, grateful for the edge of the cowl and the shadow it made. The whole room started to thrum, the floor vibrating with condensed magic as Mom used the energy we gave her to make the doorway permitting my father through to this plane.

When it happened we all felt it rather than seeing it. The power swirled around us, drawing us all closer, forming us into one entity, one spirit, a seamless conduit to the other dimension. I always hated this part, the total and utter lack of self that came with the opening of the door. Every time I went through it I tried to pull back, but my own demon blood wouldn’t allow it. Even more so than the other witches in the room, my being was tied completely and without choice to what was happening at the altar. I was always helpless, tapped into, taken, and ended up on my knees behind my mother, Meira at my side, as the effigy of my father came to life.

The blue flared to gold and Haralthazar, Demon Lord of the Seventh Plane of Demonicon, flushed and filled out. Still with the properties of stone but the appearance of flesh, he materialized from a burst of light as the gateway to his plane slammed open. For a heartbeat he stood there, haloed in the back glow of his dimension before the power propelled him the rest of the way forward and he stepped through and into his statue.

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Genre – YA Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Author Interview – Brian Francis Heffron

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

What contributes to making a writer successful? Tenacity and good storytelling skills…but not necessarily in that order. 
Do you have any advice for writers? Write three pages every day without fail.
What do you do to unwind and relax? I walk my wonder dog, Finn the magnificent! I hike and swim and sip good wine.
What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing? I have a book of poemsout as well as a one hour spoken word CD of poems. And now I have a novel.
Do you have any upcoming appearances that you would like to share with us? We are going on a book tour across the country this summer starting in Los Angeles then Colorado then New York and (My birth sate) New Jersey and finally all the states in new England, which is an area I love.
If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be? “If faut (d’abord) durer” meaning: First, it is necessary above all things to endure.
When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have? That I told the truth as I saw it.


With refreshing depth, distinct literary merit, and highly original poetic phrasings that spill from the pages like paint, Colorado Mandala is poet Brian Heffron’s debut work of literary fiction. It mines the complex landscape of post-Vietnam America to unearth the deep connections that bind individuals together, and also ferociously rip them asunder. Illustrative, luscious, seductive, and engaging, this rare piece of craftsmanship will stir the senses of any one who thirsts for artistic expression, or who longs for an era in our country now utterly, irretrievably gone.

In the heady, hippie backdrop of Pike’s Peak, Colorado, in the tumultuous 1970s, three souls swirl together in an explosive supernova. Michael is the flinty-eyed, volatile former Green Beret, whose tour in Vietnam has left unbridgeable chasms in his psyche and secrets that can never find light. Sarah is his fair-haired paramour, the ethereal Earth Mother widow of a fallen soldier and single mother to a ten-year-old son Stuart. Paul is a young wanderer, who is drawn in by Michael and soon bears the mantle of both minister and scourge. As they are drawn together, and torn apart, each is changed forever. And our hearts race along with them, through the rocky, raw Colorado terrain amidst the blood sport of man and beast.

Laying bare the loss and acceptance of a pioneering age, Colorado Mandala shines revelatory light on the crazy, glorious, and romantic notion that each generation conceives anew: that love can be a spiritual gift shared openly rather than coveted, or hidden, or hoarded. If you wish to go barefoot again and climb an unspoiled Colorado trail, look no further. If you long for something to wake you up in simple, clean language, a shimmering story awaits. Awaken to what you have always known: simple truths show you the way home. With his gripping and unforgettable Colorado Mandala, it is clear that Brian Heffron knows the way.

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Genre - Literary Fiction
Rating – PG
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