Rachel Thompson

Robert Breeze's #Political #Fiction - 2082 (The Chronicles of Hope) @robertbreeze #MustRead


Frank Noon divides opinion. Whilst some say he’s a philosophical genius, some say he’s a fanciful dreamer who deliberately courts controversy with his anti-establishment views about the failings of modern society. Seemingly nearing the end of his life in politics, he reluctantly fronts an experimental inter-galactic government project late in the 21st century aimed at making life on an overpopulated Earth more sustainable.

As he battles to gain control of a relative asylum, consisting of a cross section of the populous as much at odds with themselves as the situation, he unwittingly embarks on a life-changing journey of self discovery. As they learn more about the project and its intentions how far-reaching might the consequences be for the future of humanity?
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Genre - Political Fiction
Rating – PG
More details about the author
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J.L. Lawson – 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Becoming a Published Author @J_L_Lawson

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Becoming a Published Author
By: J. L. Lawson
When I was in my late twenties, in between contracts in California, and only had an old Remington typewriter, loads of copy paper—“borrowed” from a previous employer—and my local Boulder Creek Library as my tools for writing—there wasn’t a world-wide web or extensive internet yet—my first forays into putting together entertaining, evocative narratives based more on fact than fictions was tedious to say the least. There followed a lot of just plain life for many years before I finally, actually, started writing as a vocation. That was by then rather late in life, relatively speaking. By that time, well after the advent of the internet, POD, social media and other such marvels of industry, getting published had become a relatively simple matter of formatting one’s materials properly, choosing a reliable and efficient printer and bam, you’ve got a book published. But that’s not the end of it by any stretch—unless one is content to merely have one’s own shelves populated with one’s own books and have no exposure or audience beyond that.
TEN: Do your research. No matter if you’re writing about totally imaginary worlds devoid of seemingly any touch with reality, in order to connect with an audience you’re going to have to get your facts straight. Even if you are making them up as you go along, everything needs to be at least internally consistent. Most fiction and all non-fiction, however, requires a more constant reality check. In my youth it was the library that stood as the bastion of facts and data, history and general information. With a laptop and the web, constant trips to the local branch aren’t the impediment to sound research any longer. But you must still check and cross-check your data. Just because there’s a lot available out there doesn’t mean it’s all valid, even correct.
NINE: Make sure you say what you really want to say. That may sound obvious, but unless your thoughts are clear in your own mind, what comes across to the reader will be a fog of notions. Take the time to hash out your ideas, opinions and most importantly: storyline, so that there are no loose ends, no internal inconsistencies, no circular logic sabotaging your best efforts to bring your story to an expectant audience. See my blog: Preparing for Interviews, How Writing is Therapy… section.
EIGHT: You gotta have style. You can put one word after another in a convincing manner, but would the average reader recognize your writing from, say, their own or some other writer’s hand? I will not encourage anyone to adopt the bon ton paradigm of the day: the overpopulation of crude language, steamy and out-right explicit sexuality or the omni-present tone of disdainful cynicism that appears to pervade the marginalia-made-book-form of some contemporary ‘literature’—Unless that’s actually your chosen genre! What you must attempt to cultivate in any event is your own voice. Your writing style will follow as surely as night follows the day.
SEVEN: Nothing new under the sun. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but whatever astonishing “new” idea you have for your “best-seller” has very probably, most very likely been written… many times before… to death. Cold facts. But here’s the kicker: Shakespeare didn’t come up with anything new either! His plots were already old and moldy before he picked them up. What breathed new life into that staleness was: HOW he filled them out; WHO his characters really were; with WHAT cleverness, depth and flow he imbued their dialogues and soliloquies. So take heart. Even “Boy-Meets-Girl” can come to new life in your hands—just make it your own.
SIX: So you have your narrative. Your friends and family grudgingly read through it and are pleasantly surprised that it doesn’t stink. Then the other foot falls: you need some editing—not just proofreading for typos and the odd transposed word or out of place homonym—seriously cut, move stuff around Editing. If you’re brave (or masochistic), you can post it on your blog and open it up to readers’ comments. Probably better however, and less demeaning, is to have a professional dispassionately make your work shine as it was intended. It may cost a bit, but what’s the price of avoiding Professional Embarrassment?
FIVE: Judging a book by its cover. That little phrase is still with us because it’s more than a splinter of truth in this business—it’s axiomatic. I assure you that I have built my own covers, was pleased at how they appealed to my eye, but set them up next to others in their genre and they were the red-headed step-children. Sad, disheartening, but true. Look at what’s catching the eyes of Bookstore customers—brick-and-mortar stores or the on-line variety—there’s always a “Here’s what others are looking at…” section to be inspected. What catches your eye as you look at those shelves? That should be a clue.
FOUR: Knock on the biggest door. Unfortunately, major publishing houses, almost without exception, do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. You’ll need an agent to go there in your stead. What? Not enough budget for hiring and retaining an agent? How about a publicist, a marketing analyst, a distribution agency? No? Don’t give up just yet. How about utilizing an indie press and taking on the marketing, sales and distribution with your own sweat and tears? It has been done successfully. In fact, that’s likely why you’re reading this right now—you ARE using the available means at your disposal and spending as little as possible to make your title a household word.
THREE: Location, location, location. It’s the marketing of published work that creates the greatest challenges and forces the most attention and creativity an author can muster. There are now an over-abundance of resources and advice out there. Let me offer a shamelessly promotional example: I am writing this now, because I am part of Orangeberry Book Tours because Pandora Poikilos has connections and know-how I don’t. I have contracted with Substance Books for other branding and marketing efforts for the long haul because Hajni Blasko has the experience and expertise I don’t have.
I work at Voyager Press who utilizes: KDP, iBooks, Bowker, CreateSpace, for print and eBook production, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, GreatReads and many other outlets for distribution—including their own online VPDirect Store. For Industry exposure they contract with the Jenkins Group and Combined Book Exhibit, as well as those firms affiliates. The gist of this note is that networking with those who have the know-how, the connections and talent is how to put together a winning team.
TWO: Which brings us to the penultimate Need-To-Know item in Publishing: It takes a Village!
Just like raising children or getting a mom-and-pop store out of the red, getting a book into the hands of potential readership takes all the talent, experience and relationships you can garner and gather around yourself from the very beginning. Anyone who thinks they can go it alone in this most highly interconnected world village of today is either fabulously wealthy already and can buy their way into a reader’s hands, or is, as was suggested at the outset of this article: “…content to merely have one’s own shelves populated with one’s own books and have no exposure or audience beyond that.”
ONE: Simply put: In the end, a writer has to make informed decisions and never let loose of her/his pursestrings all too easily for un-researched, un-validated, un-verified printing, editing, developing or marketing avenues constantly bombarding email portals with wildly fantastic claims for success. Keep it Simple—Read, Research, Review, Write, Re-write, Request—those are the new R’s of publishing success in this day and age. But be prepared: Change is always a day away—it wasn’t long ago there was no interweb…
An Honest Man

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Genre - Metaphysical/Fantasy/Action Adventure
Rating – G
More details about the author & the book
Connect with J.L. Lawson on Facebook
Weigh Anchor
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Science Fiction/Metaphysical/Adventure
Rating – G
More details about the author & the book
Connect with J.L. Lawson on Facebook
The Elf & Huntress
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Science Fiction/Metaphysical/Adventure
Rating – G
More details about the author & the book
Connect with J.L. Lawson on Facebook

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

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The Jonas Trust Deception by A.F.N. Clarke @AFNClarke

The Jonas Trust Deception

by AFN Clarke

AFN CLARKE is the author of 8 books, including the best selling memoir CONTACT, that was serialized in a British newspaper and made into an award winning BBCTV film.  His latest novel, The Jonas Trust Deception, is a Thomas Gunn thriller and follows the success of The Orange Moon Affair.  Readers have called it “classy, complex and cunningly compelling” and a “powerful force in the thriller genre”.  In solving the mystery of an ongoing conspiracy involving his old friend Morgan, Thomas Gunn, ex-Special Forces, takes an action so shocking and bold, that even his team fear he’s lost his mind.  The question is, has he?  To get a taste of things to come, here’s an excerpt from the book.  And for more information visit www.afnclarke.com or the Amazon Kindle store.

There is something so totally desolate about sitting in a prison cell staring at the blank grey walls that, unless you’ve experienced it, you’ll never understand. There is a finality and hopelessness that is almost beyond comprehension. A despair that sucks at your soul. My salvation was that I knew that my stay here was going to be short-lived, but what the future held was one big question mark. I had the distinct feeling somebody had put a ring in my nose and was leading on a mystery tour with more questions than answers.

Left alone with just the usual sounds of dissatisfied inmates, clinking keys and slamming doors for company, I thought back to the frantic last few days.

Confusion would be an apt description of my state of mind.

What facts could I scramble together?

Several dead bodies at Morgan’s ranch.

A small but ruthless Mexican Mafia gangbanger, with the unlikely nickname of ‘El Cobra Poco’, who seemed as if he could be a strange ally.

And the mysterious Robert Sutherland.

What other questions remained?

There were many, starting with who would have wanted to kill Morgan? Everything went back to my request for her to investigate the financial dealings of the Griffin Trust and its Chairman Ted Lieberman.

How was the Mexican Mafia involved if what Sutherland said about Morgan working for him was true?

I could just lie here all night long and create imaginary scenarios, but that wouldn’t supply any answers, so I closed my eyes and concentrated on emptying my mind.

Sleep was what I needed.
It must have been two hours after the jail cell lights went out, that the goons came for me. Dragged me off the bed and frog marched me down the corridor to the back of the jail and down narrow stairs to a basement garage without saying a word. There was a nondescript cream coloured painter’s van waiting with the rear doors open, and I was unceremoniously bundled inside.


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Genre – Thriller

Rating – PG-13

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Website http://www.afnclarke.com/

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#amreading - Defying Age with Food by Freda Mooncotch @Kindleexpert

Reclaim Your Health, Energy & Vitality! 
It's What You Eat, Not How Much You Exercise 

In a society that spends billions of dollars annually in seeking better health and appearance through pills, powders, drinks, hormones, exercise obsession, gym memberships, and medical drugs, Freda Mooncotch is making a very bold proclamation with the title of her new book Defying Age With Food: Reclaim Your Health, Energy & Vitality. It’s What You Eat, Not How Much You Exercise! Can we really defy the aging process with what most of us take for granted each day — our food? Freda says we most certainly can in fact dramatically slow our inevitable passage of life while attaining superior health and vitality.

The pages of her new release are not filled with theories, conjecture or speculations; they tell the riveting tale of a woman’s plight to regain her health. In describing her story, Freda literally runs the gauntlet of healing protocols from both the orthodox medical and alternative health fields. What the author accomplished in her success not only gave back her health and beauty, but fired a few heavy artillery rounds across the bows of a good number of our “sacred cows” such as excessive exercise, fad dieting, mega-dosing on supplements, and a pharmaceutical drug reliance that has forged the industrialized world.

This is a must read for anyone wishing to seriously upgrade their nutritional knowledge.

Media celebrity, Kathy Hart said:
“What an eye-opener! I learned more about the effects of food on our body from Freda and her book, Defying Age, than I’ve learned in months of interviewing health experts! Her passion, knowledge and energy are a true inspiration … and those pictures of her in the book are absolute proof of how the right diet can give you a rockin’ body”.

Randy Roach of Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors wrote:
“This is a story of tenacity where a strong determination saw Freda through a fight to reclaim a healthy mind and body while ridding herself of a number of addictions plaguing so much of our society.”

Along with her amazing story and nutritional revelations and tastefully done photos of Freda, this resourceful book also contains recipes that she promises will nourish one back to health, strength, and vitality.

Defying Age with Food by Freda Mooncotch
Rating – PG
Genre – Non-Fiction
4.7 (25 reviews)
Free until 28 January 2014

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R.J. Blain's #WriteTip On Becoming a Better Writer #AmWriting #AmReading @rj_blain

Improving your writing skills is a hard, often seemingly thankless job. It involves a great deal of effort, reading, and editing to improve base writing skills, especially if you don’t have a mentor or editor to help you.
These are 10 of the tips and tricks I used to improve my writing without help from others.
10: Emulate a favorite author 
I learned this trick from a teacher in high school, and it made a huge impact on my basic writing skills. Pick up your favorite book, open it to somewhere in the middle, and find the start of a chapter. Write a story using the same structure as the author. So, first off, you will need to identify all the parts of the sentence. This helps you understand the base components of English. If you don’t know how to identify the parts of a sentence, pick up some elementary or middle-school level books and read up.
Knowing the difference between an adjective and an adverb does actually help improve your ability to write fiction, as does knowing the difference between a subject, a conjunction, a noun, and a verb.
By following the sentence structure of your favorite writers, you can learn how they put sentences together. I find this exercise a good way to improve and reinforce basic English skills while learning from writing you love.
9: Study English through Reading
There is a reason people suggest you read books if you want to write. Read the genre you write. Read genres outside of what you write. Read non-fiction. The important thing is, you do read. Many people learn through reading. That said, once you know how to write well, reading becomes less and less of a requirement.
That said, reading is how you learn to identify clichés and common plot themes in your story. While using clichés can be an effective storytelling tool, I think it’s really important that they’re done intentionally not accidentally.
8: Don’t edit until you finish a rough draft
Time and time again, I see a fledgling writer never finish a novel because they’re too busy editing unfinished material. Save edits for until you have a completed story to work on.
7: Write what you Love not what you Know
You’ll have a lot more fun with writing, and having fun is really important when the going gets rough.
6: There is no such thing as a perfect novel
While we all want to write a perfect book, no matter how long we spend editing, something will be missed. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Fix it and move on. Even traditionally-published novels have errors in them. Only start sweating if there are a lot of errors.
5: Learn to edit by editing others
Critiquing and editing is an excellent skill for writers to learn. Writing workshops and critique groups are a good way to learn the ropes of editing. When you start seeing errors others make, it is that much easier to see those same errors in your own writing.
4: Don’t rewrite your story to death
Rewriting is often necessary to tell a better story. I really suggest that you avoid rewriting the same story more than once or twice. If you continuously tell the same story over and over and over again, you’ll beat the life right out of it.
If you do feel the need to rewrite it over and over again, consider telling a completely new story with the same characters to give the tale a breath of fresh air.
3: Finish what you started
I’m a firm believer that improvement and success as a writer is tied to finishing what you start. Writing the rough draft of a novel isn’t enough. Edit it, and then polish it until it shines. Every time you do this, your writing and storytelling skills will improve.
2: You are not your writing
Don’t tie your self-esteem to your words. Your writing is not you. Remind yourself of this every time you get a review or a critique. Your writing isn’t you.
1: Writers Write 
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth saying again. You can’t improve your writing skills unless you practice writing with the intent to improve your writing. Writers write. Go write, learn, and improve. There isn’t a quick, easy way to become a great storyteller.

Kalen’s throne is his saddle, his crown is the dirt on his brow, and his right to rule is sealed in the blood that stains his hand. Few know the truth about the one-armed Rift King, and he prefers it that way. When people get too close to him, they either betray him or die. The Rift he rules cares nothing for the weak. More often than not, even the strong fail to survive.

When he’s abducted, his disappearance threatens to destroy his home, his people, and start a hopeless and bloody war. There are many who desire his death, and few who hope for his survival. With peace in the Six Kingdoms quickly crumbling, it falls on him to try to stop the conflict swiftly taking the entire continent by storm.

But something even more terrifying than the machinations of men has returned to the lands: The skreed. They haven’t been seen for a thousand years, and even the true power of the Rift King might not be enough to save his people — and the world — from destruction.

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Genre - Fantasy
Rating – PG - 13
More details about the author
Connect with RJ Blain on Facebook and Twitter
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Beyond Neanderthal by Brian Bloom @BrianB_Aust

From Chapter 12 – Visit to a Blue Amber Mine

As Tara alighted from the vehicle, she found herself facing a ghostly white haze of wispy, low-lying clouds that hung as if suspended in time above the undulating hilltops. The peaks rose from the variegated emerald and olive valley below and stretched into the distance amid a virginal mixture of lush equatorial undergrowth. She drew a deep, involuntary breath.

‘Wow!’ There were no other words to describe the feeling of awe-inspired privilege that washed over her. The vista was about as far removed from Central Park as a New York city skyscraper was from the little pastel coloured huts lining the Carretera Turística.

Aurelio smiled. Intuitively, he seemed to understand that the most appropriate response to this magnificent sight was silence. It was a full two minutes before Tara gathered her thoughts.

‘Let’s get going,’ she said.

They made their way carefully—gingerly climbing over dead logs, negotiating their way around rocky outcrops, and grabbing onto available plant life to steady themselves as they walked and stumbled their way towards the valley below. On either side of the track, a mixture of tall, fronded plants grew in an array of shapes and sizes beside stunted and gnarled old trees with deep green foliage. Tara thought of the trees like friendly bystanders, their leafy branches protectively shading Aurelio and her from much of the glaring sunshine above. They came across a trickling stream, which they followed for a while; Tara ever mindful and vigilant, watching for any sign of wildlife in the undergrowth. Except for the background humming of insects, the occasional noisy squawking of a flock of parrots flying past overhead and, once, the silent imprint of a shoe sole on the muddy banks of the stream, they seemed to be alone.

Then, in a clearing, they came across a group of young men standing seemingly relaxed and chatting. A few feet away, under a lean-to made of branches and palm fronds, one of them squatted while cooking something on a small paraffin or gas stove. Aurelio and Tara had arrived at the mine.

Again, there was a short conversation in Spanish. Again, there was a wrinkling of noses followed by broad smiles of understanding and agreement. There were also some side comments and laughter amongst the men. The word ‘gringa’—foreigner from America—came up a couple of times. Tara thought she also heard the words ‘bonita’, and ‘sexual’, but she couldn’t be sure. She decided to keep a slight distance for the time being. They were in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest civilization.

Aurelio walked back towards her. ‘They will be happy to show you around, but we should remember our time limitations. We cannot spend more that half an hour here if we are to return to Santo Domingo before dark.’

‘Are you trying to protect me from these guys?’ she asked with a smile. Aurelio looked embarrassed.

‘What’s he cooking?’ she asked to change the subject. ‘It smells great.’

‘That is called arroz con abichuelas, a mixture of rice and beans. He is probably cooking some small pieces of beef with it, but it could be any meat.’

‘Can one buy that in a restaurant in Santo Domingo?’

‘Of course, but not exactly the same. This is a local dish for locals. To sell food like this to tourists would be like offering leftovers to your guests. It would not be right. In the restaurants it is much more carefully presented and is usually served with salads.’

The word ‘dignity’ popped into Tara’s mind. Aurelio seemed to have it, and that was what she had seen on the faces of the fruit vendor and the amber polisher and, now, even the miners as she approached them. Other than their initial jocularity, they seemed to consider her as their guest and themselves as hosts who happily welcomed visitors into their world. The men were just being men.

As they approached the entrance to the mine, a happy looking miner wearing a backward facing baseball cap sat with a short-handled pick in one hand, a lump of soft rock in the other.

Hola, señorita,’ he said, grinning broadly.

She smiled back at him, lifted her hand in greeting, but continued to follow Aurelio to the mine entrance. It was like standing at the entrance to the burrow of a large animal.

Beyond Neanderthal

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Genre – Thriller

Rating – MA (15+)

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#Excerpt #Adventure - The Sovereign Order of Monte Cristo by Holy Ghost Writer @sultanofsalem

Dantes flinches at those words; he knows he still struggles to overcome many of the feelings he has experienced in the past, including anger and jealousy. It seems that no matter what he does, he cannot completely expunge that negativity and the lust to destroy those who would harm him that still lives deep in his heart.
“Forgive me, Highest Father,” he cries, bowing his head to the ground. “I will find a new way of living through faith and servitude, I promise this.”
Elohim’s voice falls silent, and Lady Wisdom’s voice follows next. She comforts him.
“My son,” she starts, “you have seen more in your lifetime than some men would see in ten lifetimes. Use these experiences to learn, and look back on them not to chastise your innate nature for mistakes, but to grow going forward. That is the true basis of wisdom.”
Sitting in the sand under a tree and talking to her helps release the bad memories he has, including his tenacious feelings of revenge and remorse.
“I have seen much, Mother,” he says. “And I have traveled far. You are right; I should use those experiences to better the lives of those around me—to bring meaning to the world.”
“You are on the right path,” she says. “And you must ask yourself—is this roaming through the world truly what you want? Is there not more you need to accomplish than entertaining townspeople?”
“I have the will,” he says, “but not the way—what guidance can you offer me? What should I put my hand to? Whatever it is, I am sure I will not fail.”
“Your purpose will be revealed to you in time,” says Mother Wisdom. “For now, you must wait. If you are patient and have faith in me, I will lead you to your destiny.”
Holy Ghost Writer
The Sovereign Order of Monte Cristo is a continuation of The Count of Monte Cristo (Book I), related through the voice of Sherlock Holmes and The Sultan of Monte Cristo (Book II). It includes exhilarating new adventures, characters, and ideas, carrying the reader past book I and II and into book III of an ever-expanding new series based on the classic.
Those who have already had the pleasure of reading The Sultan of Monte Cristo will certainly appreciate the unique way in which the Holy Ghost Writer has expanded the original story without the help of anyone (except perhaps from the ghosts of Dumas and Doyle).
In addition to comprising a 3rd sequel to The Count of Monte Cristo, The Sovereign Order of Monte Cristo serves as a prequel to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Action, Adventure
Rating – PG-15
More details about the author
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How the English Establishment Framed Stephen Ward by Caroline Kennedy @StephenWardBook

FBI director, J.Edgar Hoover, was convinced that British society was riddled with whores, pimps, sex maniacs and Soviet agents. His conviction was given a boost on Sunday, 16th June, when an article by British solicitor, Michael Eddowes, appeared in the Journal-American. In it Eddowes told of his meeting with Yevgeny Ivanov during the Cuban missile crisis. Eddowes described Ivanov as highly aggressive and full of blustering threats to wipe out England and to drop an atomic bomb in the sea 60 miles off New York. According to Eddowes, Hoover immediately ‘instructed’ him to make further enquiries into the security aspects and report back to him.
Washington was now buzzing with as many rumours as had swept London during the height of the scandal, so what happened next was not entirely a surprise. The White House became involved. The most likely explanation for President Kennedy’s sudden interest in the affair is that his brother, Attorney-General Robert Kennedy, told him of the long report from Hoover.
There were then both political and personal reasons for the President’s interest. One was that the scandal could provide Kennedy’s opponents in Congress with ammunition to attack his plans for a multi-nation NATO nuclear force. If Britain was so leaky, why should the US share it’s defence secrets? Another was a call in the Washington News for Kennedy to cancel his scheduled visit to London because it would provide moral support for the foundering Government of Harold Macmillan. ‘We can think of no better time for an American President to stay as far as possible away from England.’
And a third reason, a personal one, was that given Hoover’s animosity for the Kennedy family, the President became concerned that Hoover would somehow use the scandal against him….The only feasible reason for this widespread fascination is that all these people feared that the President of the United States was about to be dragged into the scandal, not on a political level, but on a sexual one…..The reason was that Robert Kennedy was worried that Christine or Mandy, or even both girls, might have slept with the President during their recent visit to the United States and he needed to know for certain so that he could protect the President from the scandal that would follow if the girls blabbed. It would have been simpler for Robert Kennedy to ask his brother if he had slept with either of the girls. But, as we now know, John F. Kennedy’s sexual appetite was so prodigious and so indiscriminate that he would not have been able to remember.

How The English Establishment Framed
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Genre – Politics, Espionage, Scandal
Rating – PG-16
More details about the author
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Sunspots by Karen S. Bell @KarenSueBell

* * *

As I lie in bed with these thoughts, I finally notice that Marina has quietly come back into my room and is sitting in the armchair watching me. She offers me some more medicine and I shake my head, “no.” I don’t want to sleep, and I don’t want to be awake. There is no comfort in anything. She says, “Come. We’ll have a nice cup of tea.” And I follow her downstairs and into the kitchen, zombie-like. I watch her with dull eyes that do not see her movements as she opens cupboards and finds a teapot, cups, and tea bags. I listen with deaf ears to her hum a Russian tune. I sit patiently with no patience sipping the tea I cannot taste. In silence, we sit. In silence, we speak without speaking. Marina’s life force wills me to feel her love.

And then she tells me her plan. “Maybe, I’ll stay with you awhile. Nothing back in Brooklyn right now.” I answer, mouthing words that I want to feel and yet cannot feel because I have closed myself off to the emotions of life, “Oh yes, please stay, Marina. I couldn’t bear all this alone.” I’m overwhelmed by her generosity, my loss, and the hidden truths lurking under the surface waiting to be revealed. Then the cordoned off person inside me breaks through all my controls again and unwonted tears erupt in a torrent of suppressed anguish. I am enveloped in her arms and her soothing voice whispers calming words as I try to regain the safety of stoicism.

Marina and I, sisters of a sort, sit together in my huge kitchen, in my huge house, sharing the huge hole in my heart as my tears pour down my face, flowing as if someone has turned on a spigot. Two small souls in a too-big kitchen of a too-big house silently wondering about the business problems of which his lawyer spoke using carefully chosen words somberly executed while his eyes burned with deep meaning. Problems that would have to be sorted out after I finished sitting “Shivah.” How can one cope with all of this? When will I wake up from this nightmare?

Eventually, it is dawn and I must sit on the wooden bench that signifies my mourning as memories cloud the present and I relive a life that is no more.


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Genre – Contemporary romance, Magical Realism

Rating – PG-13

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Along The Watchtower by David Litwack @DavidLitwack

The elevator dinged and the doors slid open. In less than a minute, I found myself in physical therapy. Like the rest of the hospital, the room was green-tile sterile, but someone had made an effort to cheer it up. Porcelain clowns lined the windowsill. Stuffed circus animals—lions and elephants and a family of monkeys—surrounded the rack that held the free weights. And a variety of fresh-cut flowers had been set in mugs in the cup holder for each exercise bicycle and treadmill. Later, I’d learn from Ralph that Becky kept them fresh, paying for them out of her own pocket. He said she’d deny it, but he’d seen her sneak in on more than one Monday morning with an armful.

Fresh-cut flowers. Mom used to get them every Monday as well, to brighten up the gingerbread house. But after Dad died, she started leaving them too long, not replacing them until they’d decayed so badly they smelled. After Joey died, she stopped buying them altogether.

The girl I met in the courtyard stood over a rolling aluminum table, organizing things I didn’t much like the look of. She was sufficiently absorbed that she didn’t notice us until Ralph called out.

“Afternoon, Becky. Brought you some fresh meat.”

She turned and grinned. “Always love a new victim.”

“Great. I’ll leave you two alone. Sounds like you need some privacy.”

After he left, she went back to finishing her preparations, making me wait. Finally, she came over and extended a hand.

“We already met, but let’s make it official. You’re Lt. Williams, but I can call you Freddie. I’m your worst nightmare, but you can call me Becky.”

I reached out and shook her hand. She didn’t seem scary.

“Ralph says you’re the best, that if anybody can bring me back, you can.”

“Ralph’s wrong. I’m just the guide. You’re going to do most of the work.”

“But are you the best?”

“Let’s say I haven’t lost one yet.”

“So I’ll be back on the basketball court in no time.”

Her grin vanished. She grabbed a chair, dragged it over and sat next to me.

“We’re going to be spending a lot of time together, Freddie, so we need to be straight with each other, right from the outset. My goal is to get you back to as normal a life as possible. If you work hard, I’ll have you out of that wheelchair and on crutches in a month. A month after that, maybe a cane. Beyond that, we’ll see. I make no promises other than to work as hard as you will.”

She stared at me. I stared back, captivated by my reflection in her gray-green eyes. She blinked first and went back to the rolling table.

. . . . . . .

She sat down again and undid the Velcro from my brace.

I winced. I hadn’t looked at my leg much since my peek the week before. The incision was less angry and the oozing had stopped. But what shocked me were the muscles. Where once I had bulges, now there were hollows. Not the leg of an athlete or soldier. Not the leg of a guy who might someday dunk. The leg of an invalid. Becky’s words rattled around in my brain. Crutches, then a cane. After that, we’ll see.

“It may not be pretty,” she said, as if she’d read my mind, “but it’s yours. Take a good look. Let it motivate you when you start making progress. And trust me, you will make progress.”

She squeezed some ointment from a tube onto her hands and rubbed them together.

“This will feel a little cold.”

She spread the ointment, swirling her fingertips over what had once been my quad. When she started the e-stim treatment, I felt the muscle spasm and contract involuntarily, a strange but not entirely unpleasant feeling. As she slid the wand around, humming along to its buzz, I noticed her touch more than the current.

She spoke out of nowhere. “I read the report. Says you have no family.”

I kept staring at her making figure-eights on my leg.

“Is that right?” she said.

I nodded.

“What happened?”

“I was born an orphan.”

She turned off the e-stim and looked up at me.

“Want to talk about it?”


“Ralph said you don’t talk much.”

“I talk when I want to. I don’t want to talk now.”

“Fine with me.” She resumed the treatment, hummed a few more bars, and then spoke without looking up. “Ralph was right about another thing.”

“What’s that?”

“You are a hard case.”

She was quiet after that, going about her job while I focused on the clowns at the windowsill. Every now and then, I’d sneak a look at her. A beautiful, happy optimist. But she’d never lived my life.

Crutches and a cane. After that, we’ll see. I was different from her—a realist. I knew what “we’ll see” meant. I’d need more than physical therapy to bring me back. I’d need a miracle.


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Genre – Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy

Rating – PG

More details about the author and the book

Connect with David Litwack on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.davidlitwack.com

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#Free #NonFiction #ebook Showtime at the Apollo by Ted Fox @Kindleexpert

Showtime at the Apollo is the definitive history of Harlem’s world-famous showplace. Home to nearly every great black star including: James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Richard Pryor, Gladys Knight, Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Redd Foxx, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn and “Bojangles” Robinson, – the theater still hosts contemporary luminaries like The Roots, Mary J. Blige, Chris Rock, Wynton Marsalis and Whoopi Goldberg. Numerous performers relate their own poignant, exciting and sometimes hilarious stories. Some 150 photographs – many never before published – are interspersed throughout.

For African-Americans, the Apollo was the greatest black theater, and a special place to come of age. For whites – including Elvis Presley and the Beatles – the Apollo was as close as they could come to the reality of the black experience.

Still thriving, the Apollo has exerted an unprecedented influence upon popular culture. Since 1934, the Apollo has been at the forefront of African-American music, dance and comedy. It’s legendary Amateur Night spawned countless stars. Renowned for having the world’s toughest and most appreciative audience, it is the place where, as Dionne Warwick says in the book,

“Everyone gave their best performance".

"The essential book, mandatory for the most casual student as well as the most ardent fan." – David Hinckley, Daily News

"Ted Fox made the Apollo come alive for me again."– Jerry Wexler, co-founder of Atlantic Records

"Ted Fox mows through the 20th century's mind blowing cavalcade of segregation byproduct, inhumanity producing creative transcendence. The survivors of the era provide Fox with a front-line document." - Raoul Hernandez, Austin Chronicle

"A wonderful book." – Tavis Smiley, National Public Radio

"I could almost feel and taste the Apollo again." – Doc Pomus, classic songwriter

"The definitive history of Harlem’s (and black America’s) essential theater." – New York Magazine

"Showtime at the Apollo is not only a history of that wonderful theatre, but also a fascinating insider’s view of the Harlem music scene." – John Hammond, legendary producer and talent scout

TED FOX is also the author of In The Groove a collection of interviews with men who have shaped the music industry. He produces and manages Grammy-winner Buckwheat Zydeco and lives in upstate New York.

Showtime at the Apollo by Ted Fox
Rating – PG
Genre – Music History & Criticism
4.8 (7 reviews)
Free until 24 January 2014

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Ruined by Rachel Hanna @RachelHannaBook

Chapter 3

I make my way back home, and my mother is in the living room doing one of her many workout DVDs. She has a better figure than I do, although Bruce has allowed her to have some "procedures" done to help that along. He doesn't seem to push her, but I think he enjoys having arm candy to wear to parties and such.

"Hi, sweetie. How was your first day of college?" my Mom says from the living room as she squats and lunges making all manner of grunting noises.

"It's school, Mom. How well could it go?" I mumble, hungry from my walk up the hot coastline. "Do we have anything to eat in this house?" I ask as Carmelita walks into the kitchen. A short, portly Guatemalan woman, Carmelita is probably my favorite person in this house because she's real.

"Hola, Miss Blake," she says with her bright smile. The beach life has only made Carmelita darker, and her teeth look like pearls when she smiles. "You hungry?"

"Starving," I say with my head firmly planted in the refrigerator. I'm mainly sticking it in there to cool off, but Carmelita is having none of it as she swats my rear end to move me out of the way.

"I make you a sandwich?" she says with a question mark at the end of her sentence.

"Please," I say, still uncomfortable with having someone wait on me in my own house. But, when in Rome...

It's around one thirty in the afternoon, and I can almost hear the clock ticking the countdown to my coffee date with Reed Miller. I guess I shouldn't call it a date since I am looking to get an internship from him. He would be my superior, and that conjures up some images in my mind that shouldn't be there. Handcuffs and tie straps pop into my head, reminding me that I might have been reading one too many erotic romance novels over the summer.

"Here you go," Carmelita says, handing me a plate with a club sandwich and some chips. I shove a chip into my mouth, groan with pleasure and nod.

"Thank you, Carmelita," I say through chews, which is terrible etiquette but I don't care. I slide into a chair at the breakfast bar, wolf down the sandwich and a Coke, and run upstairs to change for my coffee date with Reed. I like how that sounds. Coffee date with Reed. Yeah, I've got to get out more if one hunky guy makes me want to start writing his name all over my notebook.



Buy Now @ Amazon @ Barnes & Noble @ Kobo

Genre - New  Adult Romance

Rating – R

More details about the author

Connect with  Rachel Hanna on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://rachelhannaromance.com/

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Order of the Seers by Cerece Rennie Murphy @CereceRMurphy

Chapter 1: The End

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Liam was losing his patience. “Aw, come on! Are you serious? You can’t want to ride this thing again!”

Instead of answering her older brother, Lilli remained in her seat as the Ferris wheel conductor looked on expectantly, hand outstretched and waiting for another two tokens.

The way Lilli’s skinny arms hugged her book bag while she stared blankly at the pressed metal floor of their “Fairy Land Caboose” made it hard for Liam to stay angry. The sight of her looking so dejected softened him enough to give the conductor his fifth set of tokens in less than 45 minutes. Liam settled back into his seat just as the lap bar clamped down uncomfortably against his thighs.

“Lilli, say something. Why’d you drag me out here if you were just gonna sulk? I hate the carnival, you know that.”

“I know something… okay? Just… trust me. We have to stay here.” Her voice was so low he could barely hear her over the wind-up music that was blaring from the overhead speakers.

“Did Mom say something to you?”

Lilli responded to his question with silence and a barely discernable shake of her head back and forth. He tried again.

“Lilli! Did Mom…?”

“Yes,” she snapped.

They both fell silent again as Liam took in the latest weird thing of the day. Lilith Knight, or Lilli as she preferred to be called, had always been strange. Even when she was five, she could beat Liam at chess lazily, without even thinking about it. She would find things and give them to you before you asked for them. Before you, or even she, knew why. Up until recently, he thought she was just a freak. No biggie. All little sisters are like that, he told himself.

It was only in the past few months that his perception of her began to shift, after her prediction that he would catch his new girlfriend, Krista, kissing his teammate Lance in the locker room after their championship game. At the time, he’d brushed off her premonition as meddling. Krista wasn’t even his girlfriend and his team was 1-1 with the whole basketball season ahead of them.

He’d forgotten her warning completely until two months later when he ran back into the locker room after winning the championship to get the jacket he’d left behind and immediately smelled Krista’s perfume. When he found them, two thoughts overshadowed the scene unfolding in front of him. The first was that what they were doing wasn’t really “kissing,” though he could see how a sheltered thirteen-year-old would describe it that way. His second thought was that Lilli was right; she was exactly right. He was so stunned by Lilli’s accuracy that he didn’t even bother to disturb them, leaving his new ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend to their business. From that moment, Liam understood that Lilli wasn’t just a freak, or more accurately, that she wasn’t a freak at all. She was special…gifted.

The sound of Lilli’s sniffling followed by the trembling of her body as she began to cry uncontrollably broke the long silence that had fallen between them. What the…, Liam half-mumbled as his mind swung from irritation to absolute bewilderment. Slowly and deliberately, Liam moved his palms down the front of his face as he fought the urge to shake the truth right out of her and end whatever this was. But he couldn’t. She’s so brittle already, he thought, without any idea as to why. So instead, he reached out to envelop his sister in his arms, trying to soothe her and comfort her from some unknown force.

“Lilli, it’s all right. I’m sorry, okay? Don’t cry. Just… tell me what’s going on. Why are we here?”

He tried to wait patiently, to rein in the confusion and frustration that had been piercing through the calm day he had planned for himself when he woke up that morning, as cool and carefree as any sixteen-year-old boy. It was Lilli who had dragged him out of the house before he could even wolf down his second bowl of Honeycombs. “Mom said you have to take me to the carnival. NOW!” She had demanded.

He had started to head upstairs to launch his appeal when his eye caught his mother’s note on the refrigerator door. “Take Lilli to the fair. NOW.—Love, Mom,” it read. He knew that meant his mother had left the house early; there was no appeal to be made. Begrudgingly, he slipped on his sneakers and grabbed the car keys, all the while wondering if Lilli was still too young to be left at the fair by herself.

His earlier thoughts of abandonment brought him back to his sister’s form beside him. Not knowing what else to do, Liam simply held her tight as her convulsing turned to trembling, and finally, back to stillness. At the top of the Ferris wheel, she finally spoke.

“It’s over now, we can go home,” she whispered. But as impatient for answers and a reprieve from big brother duties as he was, Liam knew that it was not over. The emotionless tone in her voice scared him. It made him want to stay on the Ferris wheel he’d been begging to get off of a few short minutes ago. As the music died down and their feet got closer to the ground, he suddenly felt conflicting urges to stay where he was and to rush home to his mother. As the ride came to a stop, he suddenly realized with profound certainty that this was much more than one of Lilli’s “episodes.” Something was very, very wrong.

When Liam pulled his father’s green 2002 Saab in front of their small brick house, everything seemed as it always did—quiet and predictable in their modest yet comfortable home. They had lived in a much bigger house before his father died, but Liam never minded sharing a bathroom with his mother and sister. All the toys and trinkets that had mattered to him when he was a child were rendered insignificant the moment his mother told him that his father would never come home again. As he got out of the car and began to take the front steps two at a time, he noticed that Lilli had stopped at the tree stump his mother had cut down the week before. Sitting down, her eyes remained on the ground. Just as his mouth formed the shape of a question, she spoke.

“No, you go. I can’t see it again.”

Liam didn’t stop to ask what she meant. Whatever she meant, he was sure it was worse than he thought. He tried to hold back the swell of fear in his chest as he ran to the front door, but his emotions spun out of control the moment he tested the front door knob and found it opened—easily. They never left the front door unlocked.

When he stepped into the house, he actually felt the life, the person he had been, rush past him and out the door as his eyes took in the overturned, splintered remains of their living room. It was a feeling he’d felt only once before, when his father died. But what made it worse, what made it permanent, was lying in the middle of the floor, with its contents thrown everywhere. It was his mother’s purse, which had not been there when he left that morning.

“Mom!” he shouted as he raced up the stairs to her room. “Mom. Please!” he shouted again, but no one answered. In every room he looked, it was the same - scattered clothes, broken mirrors, and silence—a deafening silence that rang louder than the sound of his own shallow breathing.

If he took the stairs at lightning speed to make it to the second floor, an age could have passed during his descent. The entire house consisted of three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and a small open dining area that you could see clearly from the front door. As he walked down the steps, he knew there was only one room left to check. His mind was frozen on what to hope for as his hand reached the end of the banister. If she wasn’t in the kitchen, she might have been taken, but at least there was a chance she was still alive. If she was in the kitchen, it was unthinkable.

Lilli’s words came to him just as he rounded the doorway to the kitchen.

No, you go. I can’t see it again.”

He found his mother sitting with her feet planted on the floor, shoulder width apart, bright eyes open and cast to the ceiling, with a hole blown through the middle of her chest.

Liam braced himself against the door frame as he began to sob, the sounds seemingly emanating from a place far away from where he stood. He could not look away from the horrific image before him, the last image of his mother. He stood there with wide-eyed and tear-stained pain as the last measure of his youth drained from him like blood rushing from an open vein. When it was done, his body slid to the ground.

We are alone, he thought. There’s no one left.

Ever since his father had died, Liam lived in fear that one day he would lose her. Unable to tear his eyes away from her body, he could hear her vehemently denying that there would ever be a time when she wasn’t with them. “Never,” she would say.

Never, he thought, has finally come.

Though Liam had been staring at her body since he entered the kitchen, he had not seen the gun in her hand until he noticed a fly land on it. Years of training to keep the gun out of Lilli’s sight made him jump to his feet until he remembered that Lilli was still outside. He knew the gun well; it was his mother’s. She had taught him how to use it and to keep it out of Lilli’s reach when she was small.

At first his mind could not decipher the meaning of the scene before him. Was he meant to believe that she did this to herself? Why would the people who broke into their house ransack the place and then try to make it look like a suicide? But he couldn’t think straight, couldn’t figure out the logic or the answer to any of the crazy questions running through his mind. Why would she kill herself? He was sure the answers were obvious; he just wasn’t making sense. None of this was making any sense.

His confusion caused him to draw closer to her body. Kneeling down beside his mother, Liam took the lifeless hand that dangled at her side, the one that was not holding the gun. Though his eyes were still filled with tears, they were no longer breaking through the barriers of his lower lids. This momentary fortitude allowed him to have the courage to look directly into her face and see her open smile. The sight of it knocked him down and back into the base cabinets. She was smiling. She was smiling, he thought. She had known what was coming, and she was smiling.

Suddenly, he remembered his mother’s constant warning every time they went to the shooting range. “Don’t pick up a gun unless you mean to use it. There can be no hesitation. Do you understand me?” she would ask him sternly. Liam knew Jill Knight was skilled at using a firearm. If she had a chance to draw her gun, no one could take it from her. The implications made him immediately sick and angry before their full meaning could even register.

As if retching the contents of his stomach into the kitchen sink made room for clarity, he suddenly understood the reason behind her smile. She had killed herself. She had done this to herself, on purpose. He threw up again in a wave of protest at the notion that she would abandon them, even as the resentment of her betrayal took root. When he was done, he didn’t want to turn around, didn’t want to face her.

How could she do this? She wouldn’t do this. She promised.

Holding himself up at the sink, his thoughts turned to Lilli. Is this what she saw?, he wondered, fighting a new wave of nausea. No wonder she cried like that. No wonder… Rather than try to sort out the conflict of thoughts and emotions inside him, he decided to check on Lilli and make sure that she remained outside while he tried to figure out what to do next.

As he peered over his shoulder toward the doorway, his eyes caught the folded cuff of his mother’s sweatshirt, which was turquoise save for the blood, and a little corner of white paper that was peeking out. He knew his mother hid things in the cuff of her sleeve all the time; it was one of the many old lady habits Liam enjoyed teasing her about. He stared at the white edge of paper for a long time, warring with his own feelings of anger and grief before simple curiosity forced him to bend down and retrieve it. As his fingers curved around the edge of her sleeve, he could feel something flat and hard inside. When he rolled down her sleeve to get it, the key to his gym locker at school slipped out before he could fully unroll the note. When he did, it unleashed a new avalanche of questions upon heartbreak over questions.

In his mother’s tiny cursive handwriting, the note read, ‘Go now. Protect her.’ Liam felt a new level of understanding peel back in his mind as he read her note again. He began to see the very real possibility that perhaps his mother had not wanted to do this to herself. Perhaps she was forced by the same people who came into their home. The same people who she wanted him to protect Lilli from now. Liam grabbed the key off the floor before rising to meet his mother’s eyes one last time. They looked so different from how they had even two minutes ago and held so much he couldn’t understand, couldn’t handle right now. He closed his eyes and softly kissed her on her forehead before running out of his home for what he knew would be the last time.

Liam closed the front door behind him and turned to find Lilli sitting exactly where he left her twenty minutes before. He had only two objectives at that point - making sure that she was safe, and getting the hell out of there. As Liam scanned the neighborhood for anything suspicious, he took in the studied quiet of his block. There was no one on the street at 11:23 am on a beautiful Sunday morning. Where is everyone, he wondered, suddenly wary of the neighbors with whom he had grown up. How had no one heard the gunshot? Why didn’t anyone call the police?

The tremor in his neighbors’ curtains gave credence to the sensation that they were being watched, but no one would step outside to help them. This realization came over him with a bitterness that cast itself over all the sorrow he held inside. They had all been witnesses, he guessed, but they would no longer be friends.

Watching Liam as he crossed the small front lawn to reach her, Lilli was struck by how much older her brother looked compared to just a few hours ago. Though his straight black hair hung as sloppy and heavy as it always did over his blue-green eyes, there was none of the playful nonchalance that usually characterized her brother’s disposition. His hair was slick, spiked, and jet black with sweat, and it framed the angles of his face in a way that made her easy-going brother look cold and menacing. But it wasn’t a surprise, Lilli could see everything Liam felt on his face—anger, sorrow, betrayal, and a ferocity emerging that she did not understand. Seeing her brother so unlike himself made Lilli’s face crumple in agony as she trembled under the weight of her own choices.

“I’m sorry, Liam,” she begged in between sobs. “I know you’re mad at me for not telling you. Mom told me that if I did, they would kill you. She said I had to be strong enough… strong enough to save you.”

“Shhh, Lilli. It’s all right. We’ll talk about this later. Don’t cry. Shhh.”

Lilli knew Liam meant his response to be soothing, but his words came out cold, devoid of any life or feeling behind them. When she looked up to search his face and understand the hollowness in his voice, she found him scanning the street with the same look of fierceness. Something in the clenched set of his jaw made her finally understand. He was determined, to keep her alive, to protect the only family he had left.

“We need to go,” he said, as he led her to the car.


“I don’t know, Lilli. I don’t know.”

Order of the Seers

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Science Fiction

Rating – NC-17

More details about the author

Connect with Cerece Rennie Murphy on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.crmurphybooks.com

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