Book Feature: Stupidparty Math V. Myth by Patrick Andendall

Stupidparty 3Title: Stupidparty Math V. Myth: Unmasking the Destructive Forces Eroding American Democracy
Author: Patrick Andendall
Publisher: Fact Over Fiction Publishing LTD.
Pages: 408
Genre: Politics
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Stupidparty Math v. Myth: Unmasking the Destructive Forces Eroding American Democracy relies on publicly available facts, resources and tools to deconstruct and relentlessly drill down on the numerous misconceptions held by too many Republicans. Substantiated by more than 1,500 hyperlinks to authoritative resources, readers will find:

  • Stupidparty positions defrocked on: the “Moochers”, the economy, climate change, environmental stewardship, racism, religion, “Freedoms”, guns, and ignorance-based humor.
  • The fallacy of Fox News facts exposed, documented, and explained.

Also included are 1,055 full color images and 121 graphs and charts.

Once thoughtful, discerning Americans understand the destructive forces manipulating their views, they will begin to call for a stop to the stupidity that has invaded our politics and poisoned our political process. The eradication of Stupid from the Stupidparty is the first step.

This book does not set out to destroy the Republican Party. The U.S. needs at least two parties. But by exposing the abundance of Myth with the relentless use of Math and facts, the problems and then the solutions become self-evident.

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Book Excerpt:

Acorn.

Voting is an important civil right, and many argue it is a civic duty. In Australia you must vote. In Belgium you must show up at the polls, but having shown up, you do not have to vote. Over twenty countries have some form of mandatory voting.

Acorn was an organization devoted to adding voters to the rolls. Acorn often paid homeless people to collect signatures. Thus, it was providing a double public service.

So while on occasion such workers did try and rip off Acorn (using fake signatures to invent nonexistent people) for a few extra dollars, the Acorn organization never created any voter fraud. This may come as a shock to the paranoid conservative brain, but the fact is that nonexistent people cannot vote, not of course unless Jesus decides to rise from the dead (for a second time) in order to vote. Ironically, if one understands anything about Jesus, his likely abhorrence of the Stupidparty and their antics, this must surely be a very tempting option. But like Kerry, Acorn was swiftboated by the Benefactors, i.e., Big Money devoted to an insidious and widespread deception. Big Money wins; the public and its treasured democracy lose. Even after Acorn was hounded out of business, 49% of Stupidparty voters believed that Acorn stole the 2012 election.

 

Interview with Eve Picquette, author of ‘Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships’

Eve PicquetteEve Picquette has been looking for love, joy and fun all her life. Along the way she has had lots of experiences – some with more fun than others! A licensed attorney, she served as director of risk and quality management at hospital corporations in California and Arizona for thirty years. She is also a certified NLP life coach, matrix, EFT and Angel Therapy practitioner. Eve Picquette received her MSN in community mental health at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, and her Juris Doctor from the University of California, Davis.

Author of Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships: 10 Shift Keys -What Your Angels Have Been Trying to Tell You for Centuries and companion Mini Meditation MP3’s, she lives in Arizona, and her present happy work is teaching and advising clients regarding having more love and joy in personal and business relationships.

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About the Book:

Open Your Heart for Happy RelationshipsTitle: Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships: 10 Shift Keys – What Your Angels Have Been Trying to Tell You for Centuries
Author: Eve Picquette
Publisher: Enchanted Eve, Inc.
Pages: 78
Genre: Self Help/Inspiration
Format: Paperback

How many times have you read or seen something that made you want to change your life and relationships – but you didn’t know how? Introduced by two angels, Hope and Impatience, Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships: 10 Shift Keys – What Your Angels Have Been Trying to Tell You for Centuries answers the “how” question. Eve Picquette shows readers how to:

  • Open their hearts to love
  • Shift their lives, using 10 keys—how-to-do-it ideas created with the help of angels of inspiration—to change in real and satisfying ways.

In this lighthearted, uplifting, and beautifully illustrated gift book, each chapter opens with images of the author’s angels and quotes she believes were angel-inspired sometime in history. Readers may also download companion MP3 Mini Meditations available on Amazon.com. They are “Dared to Shift” their thoughts and behaviors and these shifts will improve lives and relationships: • Shift 1: Always Connect to Love • Shift 2: Just Stop It, Really • Shift 3: It’s All About You • Shift 4: It’s Not About You • Shift 5: Give Up on the Past • Shift 6: Expect the Best Future • Shift 7: Appreciate Everything Now • Shift 8: Re-Choose Your Relationships • Shift 9: Handle Conflict with Grace • Shift 10: Love So it Can be Felt.

If you are ready to try these simple shifts, the results will amaze you. Every encouraging and comforting word in this beautifully illustrated self-help book will lead you to the path of peace, happiness, and fulfillment. A treasure to own, it would also serve as a thoughtful, caring, and loving gift.

For More Information

  • Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships: 10 Shift Keys – What Your Angels Have Been Trying to Tell You for Centuries is available at Amazon.
  • Watch the book trailer at YouTube.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Can you tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your book?

Many of us, myself included, have been caught between working on and dreaming about fixing our lives – hoping that the elusive law of attraction would magically make our lives better. I believe that angels have inspired ideas that actually work for us, down through the ages. The book contains some of those ideas that work. I wanted to live the Prayer of St. Francis – “…let me sow love… where there is darkness, light….” I wanted to feel happy and have happy relationships – but I was not.

This book, Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships – 10 Shift Keys – What Your Angels Have Been Trying to Tell You for Centuries, is the end result of my own search for practical solutions that worked in the real world.

Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?

I self-published through Amazon – so I did not go through that agonizing process!

Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books?

I live in Phoenix, Arizona. The public library in Scottsdale has comfortable reading chairs and beautiful garden views. The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale is great, but it focuses more on fiction.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?

I am a voracious reader, so I always have both kindle and hardcopy books going! I also find a lot of peace and inspiration in the outdoors and love to go to the White Mountains here in Arizona. I also love to dance!

Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job?

I am going back and forth from semiretirement to working in healthcare quality and risk management – my career for years. I have not quite found the balance between plenty of freedom and plenty of money!

In your opinion, what makes a good book great?

The ability to both touch the intellect and the heart.

Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?

An explorer – traveling the world. I use my insatiable curiosity – and books to satisfy some of that. My goal is to travel more in the near future.

Can you give us a short excerpt from your book?

You probably would like some magic stardust to change your life and your relationships. You may have been trying to be loving, light hearted and to live a happy life, but it has been less than a success. Perhaps you read something and decide to change. But you don’t know exactly how and quickly fall back into the same patterns, just as I did. This book will give you practical shifts you can make in your life. I will be showing you what the angels had been trying to show me for years: how to shift to love, open my heart, and have happier relationships. If you make these shifts, you will become more relaxed, have more fun, and draw in the very best from your relationships. You will have the magic stardust.

There are only two reasons to make these shifts:

  • You will feel lighter and happier.
  • You will attract people, places and events, which are also lighter and happier.

When you are feeling lighter and happier and have attracted the same, you will find that your relationships have evolved, as well. They will be fixed in amazing ways. The easiest way to explain this is to think about each of your relationships as a teeter-totter. You are on one end and your partner, child, boss, or friend is on the other end. When you shift to lighten your heart, it is like lightening the weight on your end of the teeter-totter. The person on the other end must change, as well. But you cannot control what choices the other person will make. Sometimes the other person may change in ways that are happy and pleasing and keep things in balance. Sometimes the other person will refuse to play and will move away from the relationship. If so, it will be OK. Because you are shifting your life to happiness and love—another partner, friend, or job will show up to take their place. They will have lighter hearts and be in balance with the changes you are making to lighten your heart and enjoy your life.

What’s next for you?

I am working on my next book – which is how to handle despair – “the dark night of the soul” that many of us encounter – again – practical things to do when nothing seems to be working any more….

First Chapter Reveal: Daughter of the Fallen by Madeline Wynn PLUS Win $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Daughter of the Fallen 2Title: Daughter of the Fallen
Author: Madeline Wynn
Publisher: Book Baby
Pages: 250
Genre: YA paranormal
Format: Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Most sixteen-year olds aren’t worried about the fate of their immortal souls. May Krieg should be.

Typically, honor student May’s biggest problems have revolved around her super-hot arch-rival, Jack. But when a school project takes them ghost-hunting in a local cemetery, she discovers that an ominous force roams in the darkness around her.

And it follows her home.

It claws its way into her life, burning messages into her wall and imprinting them onto her body. Even worse, she can’t tell if it’s trying to possess her… or protect her.

May’s thoughts soon become actions, causing the target of her anger severe physical pain and giving her a rush the likes of which she has never experienced. She quickly realizes that she needs to find a way to reign in this power before she kills someone. May hates the pleasure it gives her, hates herself for hurting others, but she can’t stop.

As her entire world shatters around her, she is forced to ask what her soul is worth– and who would she risk losing her soul to save?

First Chapter:

This is New England. And in New England, a town without a good witch hanging or ghost story just, well, isn’t considered to be a real town. So when I walk past the iron gate of the cemetery and feel the urge to bolt riding up my legs like a herd of football players bum-rushing the food counter on taco day, I set my shoulders and do my best to cowboy up.

Set between imposing stone walls and punctured by large granite fists, Hillside Cemetery definitely looks like it deserves its sinister reputation, making my attempt at bravery rather brief. “This place sucks. Maybe we should just go.”

“Here, watch your step,” Cay says and holds out his hand to help me over the uneven cobbles just on the other side of the entry. Once we make it over the stones, he drops my hand and pulls the recording equipment out of the duffle.

We’ve been friends ever since kindergarten, when some boy taunted me for living in a “little troll house.” Cay, the kickball king, told him that it was actually a gingerbread house, and everybody knows that only fairy princesses live in gingerbread houses.

He was wrong, of course; it was witches who lived in the gingerbread houses, a fact I pointed out to him later, but I gave him props for the effort. We’ve been “Cay and May” ever since, but the whole dating thing still feels… awkward.

“Is this all from school or is Jack bringing some of his dad’s?” I swipe an errant curl of hair out of my face and cringe at my surroundings as I reach for the big videocamera. Why does it have to be so dark? Why can’t people ghost hunt in the daylight? You can still supposed get sound bites and whatever in the daytime, right? It’s not like ghosts go anywhere or sleep or, you know, whatever.

“Well, the big stuff is the professional gear with night vision from school. And then we have my stuff.” Cay stops in front of a wide tomb, laying his multiple cameras and his mini video recorder along the top like they are the most precious things in the world. “Weird that Mr. Dowd put both you and Jack on my team.”

“Yeah, weird.” And a nightmare. If it wasn’t for Jack, I’d be ranked first in our year, and, unlike Jack, if I don’t earn a ton of scholarship money for college, then I can’t go.

Cay fumbles with the equipment, his breath rising in great grey puffs of frost, lingering in his dark bob of curls. I shiver.

A BMW pulls up in front of the entry gate, looking sleek and new and out of place.

I run an unsteady hand through my untamable hair…right…Jack.

He gets out of the car and strides towards us, stepping out into the camera’s lights: short blond hair, high cheekbones, and a long neck leading to strong shoulders. Everyone at school, except for me, that is, adores him because he’s rich, intelligent and supposedly lost his virginity to a Victoria’s Secret model.

Watching the god-like way he strides across the cemetery, you can almost believe the hype. He lifts his eyes to meet mine as he nods a greeting. My heart flips.

Of course, it would be easier to dislike him if he wasn’t so damn… hot. I shake my head. I hate that about him, too.

“You’re late.” I grab the sound gear from Cay and hand it to him, eyeing the orange-clad harpy of a girl trailing after him.

“I had to pick up Alicia.” He indicates the thing as he straps on the professional sound gear. “And respond to your post on the AP History board about gun control.”

I huff. “You think we should arm everyone with a credit card?”

“What I think is irrelevant, Mason.” Jack’s the only one in the universe who calls me by my full name. “It’s what the Founding Fathers wanted that matters.” He holds out his hand to help me navigate my way over a broken tomb. I ignore it. He smirks, “Or do you not support the Bill Of Rights?”

God, please keep me from throttling him tonight. Cay clears his throat.

“WTF, losers? A graveyard?” Alicia Impestio. Wearing her designer hoodie unzipped so that she reveals way more skin than she has to, her straight brown hair is bleached at the tips and held off of her over-tanned face by some rhinestone-studded catastrophe. I grit my teeth.

“Hey Alicia, glad you could make it.” Cay holds the minicam out towards her and helps her onto the cobbled path of the graveyard.

“Whatever.” Alicia grabs the mini and swats at Cay’s hand as she struggles to gain a foothold. A challenging endeavor, I’m sure, for someone wearing flip-flops in November.

She gives me the once-over, lips curling.

“You really wore that?” She asks, mouth open with disdain.

“Alicia…” Jack’s voice is low, menacing.

“I mean” –she gives me the once-over and sneers- “Aren’t the Kardashians some of you people? They at least know how to dress. But, then again, they also know who their daddy is.”

That’s Alicia: hitting where it hurts. I blink through the stinging at my eyes as my mind races to find something snarky to say…something to…

“Alicia,” Jack snaps. “Stop.”

“Fine, but tell Clay Aiken over there to hurry it. I’m cold.”

Jack makes a motion with his head to indicate that Cay should ignore her as he adjusts the weight of the portable boom on his back.

“Okay, I’m filming.” I say and catch the low-hanging harvest moon before panning down to Cay.

“In three, two, one…”

“This is Cayden Robison of Chase Hills High Broadcasting reporting on site at Hillside Cemetery. In 1734, three witches were reportedly hung just up the road, on the town green and buried, here, in this cemetery, in unmarked graves.”

“Then, in 1864, three men were arrested for grave digging, and ever since, people have reported strange things not only here, but especially out behind the burial grounds, in the woods.” Cay runs his hand along the top of a worn tombstone.

“Reports of paranormal activity really began to pick up in the past thirty years.” He pauses, and I pan the camera over to the creepy oak and the broken bench beneath it, hands a little unsteady. “Some people claim to hear voices, others see full-body apparitions, but most convincingly, in the 1980s, some kids back here partying say that they found satanists performing rituals in the woods. They watched as the group made a make-shift temple of one of the half-buried barite mines in the woods, and claim that the men actually raised a demon.”

He stops, looking intently into the lens of my camera. I flex my fingers, my breath rushed, like I’ve been running.

“Tonight, we’re going to dig for the truth and see if Hillside Cemetery is actually haunted.” Cays smiles.

Deep breath, May. It’s just a story. Fairytales. There’s no such thing as demons, or ghosts.

Cay motions with his hand to indicate that the “official” filming has ended and that now the “ghosthunting” part of the project begins. Why couldn’t we report on the old tavern, or maybe on one of the farms like everyone else? I blow onto my fingers to keep them warm before turning off the main light of the camera and switching to night vision.

A dog barks. I jump. Looking at the shadows clinging to the crooked, thin stones more cautiously, my heartbeat ticks up. Stupid dog.

Jack, eyeing me with something like concern, takes a step in my direction.

“So, what exactly are we looking for? Has anybody actually taped any evidence here?” I ask, trying to put some steel in my voice. Don’t look stupid in front of Jack, May. He’s not freaked out and you shouldn’t be either.

“Lots of people have caught pictures and stuff… a few good EVPs.” Cay stops and explains as he snaps a bunch of still shots. “Electronic Voice Phenomena. Voices of ghosts are usually at such a low frequency that human ears can’t pick them up, but you can catch them on tape.”

Cay walks, holding out both a still camera and a wand-like mini-recorder in front of him.

I follow, looking over my shoulder. “Sounds like a bad recording…or interference.”

Jack laughs soundlessly as we slowly follow Cay’s movements. Is it wrong to say that I’m happy Jack’s here? I mean, it would be better if it was someone else, of course….

Cay storms around the tomb and wags his finger at me, dry leaves crunching beneath his feet. “It’s not interference, jeez May, didn’t you read those links I sent you?”

No. The whole ghost thing is ridiculous. The trees at the edge of the cemetery, though, are freakish. Black and dripping with shadows… I absolutely would have read a link about a barite mine lurking somewhere beneath those trees.

“This is creepy.” Alicia says, “Jack, we’re going to Eric’s party later, right?”

Jack glares at her.

“Whatever.” She purses her lips and tosses the minicam on the ground, “I’m going back to the car.”

Thank you, God.

Cay’s sweet, boyish features twist at Alicia’s defection. “We’ll do some EVP work, first, OK?” He messes with his digital voice recorder for a minute before holding the wand-like thing before him. He presses record. “Testing.”

We wait. The frost from our breath hovers around us, filling the darkness with fog, hiding us from the trees.

Cay looks to me. Then he pushes stop. He plays back the recording and we hear him say, “Testing.”

Jack shuffles his feet, trying to lower the boom over where Cay is standing in the least conspicuous manner possible. A strange, cool feeling falls over me. My teeth clench against it.

“Shhhh, May. Do you feel that?” Cay holds out his arm, listening.

My body tenses. “Feel what?” I ask, angry at myself for my quickening heartbeat.

“It just dropped like ten degrees. Ghosts need energy to manifest, and when they’re about to appear, you find a cold spot. Just like this.” He grins.

Swallowing my galloping heartbeat, I refrain from mentioning that it is always cold in November in Connecticut. But a wall of cold that hits suddenly, in a graveyard, while trying to talk to the dead…

“Is anybody here with us tonight?” Cay asks, holding the recorder out before him. “Is there anything you would like to say to us?”

We wait in the silence of the night, Cay with the tiny, handheld voice recorder and Jack with the pro gear and mic, both recording, both waiting…

The cold sits at the bottom of my stomach like a virus, lying, waiting to rear up and make me ill. I keep the camera on Cay with shaking hands, black hair falling in front of my eyes, but I don’t dare swat at them, in case I miss the shot.

Cay plays the tape back. He waits, holding his breath as we hear his voice asking the first question, and thankfully only a blank pause before we hear him ask the second and I relax, shoulders softening, but just then, just as he moves to turn off the playback, a sound, a groaning, emanates from the small machine he holds in his hand.

“Go.”

“What the hell was that?” I shriek, jumping in time with Cay and reaching out to grab at Jack’s shirt.

“It sounds like it’s saying ‘go’, hot damn!” Cay shouts triumphantly. “We like totally made contact!”

Jack looks at my hand on his shirt and smiles. I let go. Crap!

“Mason, this ghost hunting stuff is all bull, you know that, right?”

Heart slamming, I hold my feet steady beneath my pounding heart. Bull, yeah, bull, right, I do know that. I nod at him, breath heavy.

“Here, I’ll show you.” Jack lowers the long wand microphone to his feet. Arm muscles tensing as he pulls the battery pack off of his back, he plays back the feedback on the main sound recorder. He fast forwards then hits play. We hear Cay ask his questions and…I hold my breath…and…and…nothing. Jack’s right. Nothing groaned. Nothing said “go”.

Thank God.

“The EVP recorder’s more sensitive.” Cay says incredulously as he points the EVP recorder at Jack’s set lips. “It’s specially set up to pick up more sound waves than standard equipment.”

“More sensitive than professional sound gear?” Jack raises his eyebrow and looks me in the eye.

“He pre-recorded it, Mason. He’s faking.”

“Cay?”

“I’m not lying, May, I swear!” He hops around a cracked tombstone and grabs my hand in his,

“Promise.”

“Right.” Jack shrugs off the rest of the soundgear. “Using an assignment on local history as an excuse to play ghost hunter was a bad idea, Cay. Faking a ghost sighting or hearing or whatever to impress your girlfriend is just wrong.”

“We’ve just experienced something supernatural here!” Cay turns to face Jack, looking wiry standing against Jack’s athletic physique.

“No, we haven’t.” Jack’s eyes meet mine and my heart flounders… not sure as to what the hell it should be doing. “He’s lying to you, Mason.”

My heart tightens, falls.

“I am not, you dick!” Cay shoves Jack in the chest.

Jack doesn’t push back, he just straightens out and looks to me again, “Maybe you should ask him what else he’s lying to you about, Mason?”

“May, you’ve known me like your whole life, you know I wouldn’t fake this.” I look into Cay’s eyes, searching for the truth. He wouldn’t. For one, he’s not that smart. And he wouldn’t fake something like this. Not on purpose. Not if it would mean tricking me. Maybe Alicia tampered with this stuff somehow… And what the hell is Jack implying?

“He wouldn’t lie, Jack.” I look across the field to the blackened woods. “Not to me. It must be the equipment.”

Jack’s face closes…he’s pissed. “For your sake, I hope that’s true.” He hands me the sound equipment. “I can wait by the car if you want me to, but I won’t be part of this.”

“Just go.” Cay demands, getting in Jack’s face.

Jack raises his eyes to mine. My heart amps up. I force my eyes to the ground. I don’t want him to go. Safety in numbers and all that.

Wait, Jack’s walking away….

I turn to Cay. “Why is he so sure you’re making this up?”

Cay looks at his feet. “Probably just pissed he’s not in charge of something for once.”

“Maybe.” I watch Jack’s form seem to disappear into the trees and tombs beneath the light of the moon.

“Come on.” He looks over at Jack’s retreating form and says at full volume, “I’m your boyfriend and I won’t let anything bad happen to you.”

Jack stops, back tight, and Cay sports a defiant grin as he ushers me closer to the tree line.

After a long moment, Cay clears his throat and talks into the wand-like EVP machine. “We’re here to talk to you.”

Leaves crunch beneath his feet as he picks his way through the tall blades of yellowed grass and creeps down towards the woods. I ask, “Wait, Cay, where are you going?”

He hits ‘record’, ignoring me.

“We want to talk to you.” Cay calls, talking to the dead as he motions for me to follow him, trampling twisted fronds of dead milkweed as he crosses the field of graves and approaches the trees.

My heartbeat ticks up even further by the sudden stillness of the trees. No owls, no wind, even the yippy dogs from the condos have stopped. My feet stay planted, rooted… I really don’t want to go near those trees. Much less walk around in them.

“Would you like to say something to us?” He waits for what seems like a year, then stops recording.

He meets my eyes over the top of the view screen. He pushes ‘play’.

We wait. I feel a trickle of sweat down my chest, sliding over my racing heart…I swallow the lump in my throat…waiting…

Merciful silence. I let out a breath of relief. Thank God. That first voice was probably just the wind, or Cay doing something beneath his….

Go away.” The voice is loud enough to hear, coming from the woods, and my heart takes a great leap, stomach trembling. Cay’s eyes widen, and just before I drop the camera and run back to the car, he grabs my arm, and holds me steady, fear like a giant nail in my chest…. and we hear it again, the voice, low, dark, barely above a whisper. “Demons.”

Cay shivers with excitement. “Did you hear that? Were you recording? Did you catch what it was saying? This is like totally amazing!”

“It was crystal clear what it was saying, Cay! And it means we need to get the hell out of here right now!” My breath leaves short, angry clouds of frost in the air around me, and I struggle to keep a good shot on anything as I look into his delighted face.

No way. No way. This is bull. I’m being punked or something, right? He has to have paid someone to hide in the trees. He didn’t tell me because he wanted me to look scared on film. He’ll tell me later, we’ll laugh about it later…

“No way, it means we’re going into the woods! How many times do you get a chance to possibly catch an inhuman haunting on film! This is like wicked hot.” Cay hops a thin sapling and walks into the forest.

“Cay, please, let’s just go back to the car. We’ve got more than enough for our three minute assignment.” I say, voice thin. Please don’t make me go in there.

Breathe, May, breathe. It’s just trees, dammit. You like trees. I look up to try and find Cay.

But he’s gone, walking into the misshapen wood, trees bending, scooping at the ground instead of the sky. I peer into the shadowed forest, and then back to the graveyard. Dampening my pounding heart, I square my shoulders and try and think strong, think tough. I can’t let Cay go in there alone. He’ll trip on a rock or something and get himself killed. I take a deep breath, hope to God this isn’t a mistake, and take a step into the trees.

The woods are definitely worse than the graveyard. The graveyard has some sense of form, some light. The woods here are a mess of fallen vines, thorn bushes and half-broken, half-dead trees and their sickly, barren limbs above. Holding onto the peeling bark of an old birch tree, I allow my eyes to adjust to the new degree of darkness.

Having better vision through the lens of the camera than I do with my own eyes, I raise the camera and slowly make my way through the chaos. I follow Cay’s movements with the camera, watching his lanky form appear and reappear onscreen ahead of me, asking more questions of the voice.

There are things here. I feel them, watching, waiting, my skin tingles at the sensation, as if it has sprouted thousands of tiny, needle-like thorns. The only sounds in here come from us, which is…well… wrong.

“Ugh! That totally sucks! May, go around, I got caught in this nasty puddle here. Oh, wow that’s cold.” Cay says, shaking his foot and hopping around some saplings.

“We should go.” I say. “It’s hard to shoot in here.” My path around the freezing mud leads me either through a patch of thorny undergrowth or over a massive downed tree.

Right, over the tree it is then. I lower the camera and let it dangle around my neck and use both hands to grab the log and climb up and over. Landing on the other side, I pull a leaf out of my hair. Wait…why does it feel like the ground here isn’t frozen? My feet sink…what’s going on? Did I step into a pile of decaying leaves?

The ground gives beneath my feet and the forest floor rushes up to my eyes.

A moment of dark free fall and confusion ends with the clarity of impact. Pain bursts my body. Burning up through my legs, through my lungs, through thoughts of anything. Anything but the pain…erasing everything.

I can’t breathe. Like a fish on a dock, I fumble as my lungs torturously pull in raw, slicing clouds of oxygen. Short, excruciating breaths, but I have to….

“Cay” I call for my friend, somewhere above me, but the sound that leaves my throat is too low, too guttural to carry.

I’m wallowing, covered in something. Oh crap. Am I in a grave? I can’t tell; I can’t see anything. My heart is on overdrive. The smell is noxious. I wipe some of the sludge off my face, only to smear more of it near my eyes. It clings to my sweater, wet, cold, beneath my filthy coat. The stench, oh God I can’t see. What is this?

The only light filters in from a small hole somewhere maybe eight feet over my head.

Are there bones? What is that smell? Decaying leaves? No, too deep, and the smell is rancid, like something is dying, or has died, leaving me lying in a pool of decomposing flesh. Oh please God, tell me I am not in a puddle of rotting bodily fluids. The noxious fluid clings to me, burning my nostrils as I try and stop the heaving of my chest and I gag.

“May! May can you hear me? Are you OK? Oh crap, I like can’t like believe this, if you can hear me, I am like calling 911, ok? Are you bleeding?”

“Cay.” I try again, a low moan as my body’s initial numbness turns to tiny pricks, like millions of biting ants running up and down the length of my body as my nerves surge back up. I lay on my side, curled up in the mire.

Fighting pain, fighting panic, I look around me. And see nothing. The dark is absolute. I move my head to look at my quivering, bleeding hands. They don’t seem to be broken. Okay, this is good. Well, maybe not good, but I’m not dead, and that’s at least something. Just calm down and think your way out of this. Check your legs.

My right leg is sore, throbbing, but okay. I move my left foot and waves of agony reverberate up my leg. I exhale forcefully, trying to exorcise some of the throbbing so I can focus.

“Cay!” My voice is a low, whiny croak…not enough…not enough…

My eyes adjust, slowly, so slowly. I lean on my aching left hip. My phone. Open the phone. I pull my cell out of my pocket. Hands trembling, I flip the phone open. The ambient light I’m counting on fades to black, as if snuffed. Damn! I just charged the stupid thing this afternoon. It’s so cold, so dark…

Breathe, just breathe.

“Cayden Robinson. I’m at Hillside. No. My friend, she fell into like a hole…I don’t know, yes, a hole…no…look, you like have to get her out like now….” His voice fades.

Breathe in…His voice echoes down to where I lay in a pool of grayish light. Breathe out….I look around at the walls, and see nothing. Nothing but darkness. Focus, May! Breathe in….Cay is up there, not too far above you, and you will be able to call to him in a minute, once your breathing steadies.

Breath out… “Cay!” I call, voice finally unlocking.

“Oh my God!” He fumbles, kicking debris down into the hole, “May!”

“Just stay calm, OK?” He calls, “The EMTs told me to tell you not to move because you might have a neck injury or something.”

Not move? Stay calm? Seriously? I feel my cheeks moisten and I stifle a yowl. Breathe in….

I wish I could see into the dark around me. Then at least I would be able to know where I am. Sitting in the only light makes me feel like I’m onstage.

Remembering the light on the camera, I fumble around my surrounding area, only to finding more mud. Hot dammit!

“I’m going to look around and see if I can find something to help you out with, OK? Like a stick or something.” Cay calls.

I sit, cold, trying to stay calm. But I feel…something….

I feel it. I am not alone. The tips of my fingers go numb. Something is here…around…watching….

Cay returns to the edge of the hole and he leans his head over. “I don’t want you to like, freak out or anything, but I think you’re in the shaft.”

The temperature plummets and my stomach lurches, “What shaft?” I ask, voice hoarse.

“Like, the shaft, May. I think I just found the entrance over there, it look like it’s sealed and all.”

My heart flutters. “Cay, are you talking about the mine shaft? The one the …..”

“Yeah.” Cay murmers. “But don’t panic. Help is totally on its way.”

Asshole! Don’t panic? Is he for real? I’m in the satanist’s shaft and he tells me not to panic!?!?

Something shuffles in the dark not three feet from where I’m laying. My heart shifts, “Something just moved, Cay.”

Cay’s head is back in the light. “It’s probably just a mouse, May, relax.” His voice is tight.

Right, a mouse. But it sounds bigger…

I hear a low-level snarling. Bile dribbles down my throat, burning as it goes. “Cay, there is something down here.”

The color slowly drains from my cheeks and all feeling rushes to my core. Growling. Something is here. Growling. Oh God help me. Growling.

My mind frantically searches, wishing I could see anything in the darkness. My throat tightens and I am barely able to whisper. “Help me.”

“May, here.” Cay drops a glowstick down the opening, and I watch with horror as it illuminates a large, growing mass of shadow against the rock of the wall. No. The shadow is vaguely human in form, and can’t be cast by me. No. I’m on the wrong side of the light. My blood ices. Please somebody help me.

Move! May, move! I tug at my legs desperately and back away from the sounds, but it feels like I am surrounded. I have nowhere to go. I have no escape. The light of the glowstick fades before it hits the floor, swallowed by the darkness, as if absorbed by this thing, and I hear the sound of the video camera’s plastic casing being ripped, shredded.

“Cay!” Shrieking, I clamor at the wall behind me, looking for some sort of grip to try and pull myself out of the mineshaft, hands only finding slick stone. Then I feel it, hot breath on the back of my neck. “Get me the hell out of here now! There is something down here and it’s huge!”

“May! Hold on! Help! I’m gonna, I just, like…”

The black is absolute, but I feel it, breath tickling at my skin, everywhere, nowhere, my fingers scraping at the rock wall, trying to find a hold, a way out. “Get me out of here! Please! I feel it, it’s everywhere!”

“May! What’s going on? Are you OK? Help! Somebody!” Cay’s screams are desperate above me as I fall to my knees, the air taking on life a life of its own as my fingers bleed, clawing against the rock. Can’t think. I hear another sharp, angry voice somewhere above me. Can’t breathe. I lunge right to try and avoid touching the mass of darkness to my left, but my head bangs hard against the rock wall and I can’t keep my eyes open.

It all goes black.

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Interview with Jeff Gunhus, author of Night Terror

Jeff GunhusJeff Gunhus is the author of both adult thrillers and the Middle Grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His book Reaching Your Reluctant Reader has helped hundreds of parents create avid readers. As a father of five, he and his wife lead an active lifestyle simply trying to keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel.

His latest book is the thriller/horror novel, Night Terror.

For More Information

About the Book:

Night Terror 2Ten years after her abduction and near-sacrifice to the Source, Sarah Tremont struggles to be a normal teenager. As much as she’s tried to suppress the power inside of her, it’s grown dangerously strong and has drawn the attention of those who want to possess her power for themselves.

The nightmare that she thought was long over starts again as powerful forces descend upon Prescott City to seek her out. With her parents and Joseph Lonetree’s help, Sarah must stand up to an evil much more powerful than the one she faced in the caves a decade earlier. But in the end, she discovers the greatest danger might come from the power living inside of her.

For More Information

  • Night Terror is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Can you tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your book?

The first book was all about my paranoia of my kids being harmed by strangers and what my responsibilities were as a father to keep my family safe. Book 2 looks at what my evolving understanding is of my kid’s ability to take care of themselves as they get older and stronger.

Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?

I self-published book 1 to great success. I was approached by publishers who were interested in acquiring it, but I prefer the creative and business control I have of my own work as the publisher.

Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books?

City Dock Café in historic Annapolis. I love to write there as well.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?

I have five kids so it’s all about the barely controlled chaos of a large family. I love every second of it.

Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job?

I’m the CEO of a national home improvement company with a few thousand employees. I love that part of my life as well. When speaking to my employees, I talk about the importance of carving time out for passion projects. That’s what my writing is for me.

In your opinion, what makes a good book great?

An emotional connection with the characters trumps language, plot and setting. Great fiction makes us feel and then reflect that feeling in our personal experiences.

Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?

A writer…and Indiana Jones.

Can you give us a short excerpt from your book?

Charlie Winters didn’t scream. Not because the pain had stopped, because it hadn’t. Every nerve in his body was still on fire, bursting with electric signals to his brain that the bag of meat, sinew, and bone that was supposed to protect it was being systematically destroyed. Pound by pound, his flesh was eaten. Ounce by ounce, his blood was guzzled down.

No, his screams stopped only because his vocal cords were raw and bloody and had ceased to function. None of the dozen or so attackers had bothered to silence him when they started the feast, and Charlie had screamed and screamed until he could do so no more.

Even with his throat filled with blood, he still tried to cry out, expelling a spray of red mist. The men feasting near his head enjoyed this and breathed in the vapors of his bloody exhalation. One of the men’s thick fingers dug into Charlie’s left eye socket and scooped out his eyeball, giving a quick yank to pop it loose from the strand of nerves attached to it. Charlie felt another man put his lips around the empty socket and suck hard at the juices inside his head. Nails clawed at and then ripped off the small pad of meat on his cheek, a delicacy on ten-year-old boys as much as it was on suckling pigs.

Charlie closed his eyes and begged for death.

An hour earlier he had been a regular boy, just like anyone else.

But then again, he knew that wasn’t really true. He’d never been like anyone else. And now it had finally cost him.

What’s next for you?

I have five projects I’m trying to decide between. I think it will be a sequel to Killer Within.

First Chapter Reveal: Miracle Man by William R. Leibowitz

Miracle Man 7Title: Miracle Man
Author: William R. Leibowitz
Publisher: Manifesto Media Group
Pages: 428
Genre: Cross-genre Thriller
Format: Paper/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

REVERED REVILED REMARKABLE

The victim of an unspeakable crime, an infant rises to become a new type of superhero.

Unlike any that have come before him, he is not a fanciful creation of animators, he is real.

So begins the saga of Robert James Austin, the greatest genius in human history. But where did his extraordinary intelligence come from?

As agents of corporate greed vie with rabid anti-Western radicals to destroy him, an obsessive government leader launches a bizarre covert mission to exploit his intellect. Yet Austin’s greatest fear is not of this world.

Aided by two exceptional women, one of whom will become his unlikely lover, Austin struggles against abandonment and betrayal. But the forces that oppose him are more powerful than even he can understand.

First Chapter:

Prologue

A tall figure wearing a black-hooded slicker walked quickly through the night carrying a large garbage bag. His pale face was wet with rain. He had picked a deserted part of town. Old warehouse buildings were being gutted so they could be converted into apartments for non-existent buyers. There were no stores, no restaurants and no people.

“Who’d wanna live in this shit place?” he muttered to himself. Even the nice neighborhoods of this dismal city had more “For Sale” signs than you could count.

Miracle Man Pacific Book AwardsHe was disgusted with himself and disgusted with her, but they were too young to be burdened. Life was already hard enough. He shook his head incredulously. She had been so damn sexy, funny, full of life. Why the hell couldn’t she leave well enough alone? She should have had some control.

He wanted to scream-out down the ugly street, “It’s her fucking fault that I’m in the rain in this crap neighborhood trying to evade the police.”

But he knew he hadn’t tried to slow her down either. He kept giving her the drugs and she kept getting kinkier and kinkier and more dependent on him and that’s how he liked it. She was adventurous and creative beyond her years. Freaky and bizarre. He had been enthralled, amazed. The higher she got, the wilder she was. Nothing was out of bounds. Everything was in the game.

And so, they went farther and farther out there. Together. With the help of the chemicals. They were co-conspirators, co-sponsors of their mutual dissipation. How far they had traveled without ever leaving their cruddy little city. They were so far ahead of all the other kids.

He squinted, and his mind reeled. He tried to remember in what month of their senior year in high school the drugs became more important to her than he was. And in what month did her face start looking so tired, her complexion prefacing the ravages to follow, her breath becoming foul as her teeth and gums deteriorated. And in what month did her need for the drugs outstrip his and her cash resources.

He stopped walking and raised his hooded head to the sky so that the rain would pelt him full-on in the face. He was hoping that somehow this would make him feel absolved. It didn’t. He shuddered as he clutched the shiny black bag, the increasingly cold wet wind blowing hard against him. He didn’t even want to try to figure out how many guys she had sex with for the drugs.

The puddle-ridden deserted street had three large dumpsters on it. One was almost empty. It seemed huge and metallic and didn’t appeal to him. The second was two-thirds full. He peered into it, but was repulsed by the odor, and he was pretty sure he saw the quick moving figures of rodents foraging in the mess. The third was piled above the brim with construction debris.

Holding the plastic bag, he climbed up on the rusty lip of the third dumpster. Stretching forward, he placed the bag on top of some large garbage bags which were just a few feet inside of the dumpster’s rim. As he climbed down, his body looked bent and crooked and his face was ashen. Tears streamed down his cheeks and bounced off his hands. He barely could annunciate, “Please forgive me,” as he shuffled away, head bowed and snot dripping from his nose.

1

Edith and Peter Austin sat stiffly in the worn wooden chairs of Dr. Ronald Draper’s waiting room as if they were being graded on their posture by the receptionist. Edith’s round cherubic face was framed by graying hair that was neatly swept back and pinned. Her dress was a loose fitting simple floral print that she had purchased at a clearance sale at JC Penny. Their four year old son, Bobby, sat between them, his shiny black dress shoes swinging from legs too short to touch the floor. Edith brushed the boy’s long sandy hair away from his light blue eyes that were intensely focused on the blank wall in front of him. Peter, dressed in his construction foreman’s clothes, yawned deeply having been up since five in the morning, his weathered face wrinkled well beyond his years. Looking down at his heavy work boots, he placed his hand firmly on Edith’s knee to quiet her quivering leg. When they were finally shown into Draper’s office, the receptionist signaled that Bobby should stay with her.

Ronald Draper was the Head of the Department of Child Psychology at Mount Sinai Hospital. A short portly man in his late forties, the few remaining strands of his brown hair were caked with pomade and combed straight across his narrow head. His dark eyes appeared abnormally large as a result of the strong lenses in his eye glasses and his short goatee only accentuated his receding chin. Glancing at his wrist watch while he greeted Peter and Edith, Draper motioned for them to take a seat on the chairs facing his cluttered desk. Draper had been referred by Bobby’s pediatrician when Bobby’s condition didn’t improve.

“Describe to me exactly what you’re concerned about,” Draper said.

Edit cleared her throat. “It started about a year ago. At any time, without warning, Bobby will get quiet and withdrawn. Then he’ll go over to his little chair and sit down, or he’ll lie down on the window seat in the living room. He’ll stare directly in front of him as if in a trance and then his lids will close halfway. His body will be motionless. Maybe his eyes will blink occasionally. That’s it. This can go on for as much as forty minutes each time it happens. When visitors to our house have seen it, they thought Bobby was catatonic.”

Draper looked up from the notes he was taking. “When Bobby comes to, do you ask him about it?”

Edith’s hands fidgeted. “Yes. He says, ‘I was just thinking about some things.’ Then, when I ask him what things, he says, ‘those things I’m reading about.’”

Draper’s eyes narrowed. “Did you say, things he was reading about?”

Edith nodded.

“He’s four, correct?”

Edith nodded again and Draper scribbled more notes.

“Do you question him further?”

“I ask him why he gets so quiet and still. I’ve told him it’s real spooky.”

“And how does he respond to that, Mrs. Austin?”

Edith shook her head. “He says he’s just concentrating.”

“And what other issues are there?”

“Bobby always slept much less than other children, even as an infant. And he never took naps. Then, starting about a year ago, almost every night, he has terrible nightmares. He comes running into our bed crying hysterically. He’s so agitated he’ll be shaking and sometimes even wets himself.”

Draper put his pen down and leaned back in his worn leather chair, which squeaked loudly. “And what did your pediatrician, Dr. Stafford, say about all this?”

As Edith was about to reply, Peter squeezed her hand and said, “Dr. Stafford told us not to worry. He said Bobby’s smart and imaginative and bad dreams are common at this age for kids like him. And he said Bobby’s trances are caused by his lack of sleep, that they’re just a sleep substitute—like some kind of ‘waking nap.’ He told us Bobby will outgrow these problems. We thought the time had come to see a specialist.”

Tapping his pen against his folder, Draper asked Edith and Peter to bring Bobby into his office and wait in the reception area so he could speak with the boy alone. “I’m sure we won’t be long,” he said.

His chin resting in his hand, Draper looked at the four year old who sat in front of him with his long hair and piercing light blue eyes. “So, Robert. I understand that you enjoy reading.”

“It’s the passion of my life, Doctor.”

Draper laughed. “The passion of your life. That’s quite a dramatic statement. And what are you reading now?”

“Well, I only like to read non-fiction, particularly, astronomy, physics, math and chemistry. I’ve also just started reading a book called ‘Gray’s Anatomy.’”

“Gray’s Anatomy?” Draper barely covered his mouth as he yawned, recalling how many times he had met with toddlers who supposedly read the New York Times. In his experience, driven parents were usually the ones who caused their kids’ problems. “That’s a book most medical students dread. It seems awfully advanced for a child of your age.” Walking over to his bookcase, Draper stretched to reach the top shelf and pulled down a heavy tome. Blowing the dust off the binding, he said, “So, is this the book that you’ve been reading?”

Bobby smiled. “Yes, that’s it.”

“How did you get a copy?”

“I asked my Dad to get it for me from the library and he did.”

“And why did you want it?”

“I’m curious about the human body.”

“Oh, is that so? Well, let’s have you read for me, and then I’ll ask you some questions about what you read.”

Smiling smugly as he randomly opened to a page in the middle of the book, Draper put the volume down on a table in front of Bobby. Bobby stood on his toes so that he could see the page. The four year old began to read the tiny print fluently, complete with the proper pronunciation of medical Latin terms. His eyes narrowing, Draper scratched his chin. “Ok, Bobby. Now reading words on a page is one thing. But understanding them is quite another. So tell me the meaning of what you just read.”

Bobby gave Draper a dissertation on not only what he had just read, but how it tied it into aspects of the first five chapters of the book which he had read previously on his own. By memory, Bobby also directed Draper to specific pages of the book identifying what diagrams Draper would find that supported what Bobby was saying.

Glassy eyed, Draper stared at the child as he grabbed the book and put it back on the shelf. “Bobby, that was very interesting. Your reading shows real promise. Now let’s do a few puzzles.”

Pulling out a Rubik’s cube from his desk drawer, Draper asked, “Have you ever seen one of these?”

Bobby shook his head. “What is it?”

Draper handed the cube to Bobby and explained the object of the game. “Just explore it. Take your time—there’s no rush.”

Bobby manipulated the cube with his tiny hands as he examined it from varying angles. “I think I get the idea.”

“OK, Bobby—try to solve it.”

Thirty seconds later, Bobby handed the solved puzzle to Draper.

Draper’s eyes widened as he massaged his eyebrows. “I see. Well, let me mix it up really good this time and have you try again.” Twenty seconds after being handed the cube a second time, Bobby was passing it back to Draper solved again. Beginning to perspire, Draper removed his suit jacket.

“Bobby, we’re going to play a little game. I’m going to slowly say a number, and then another number, and another after that—and so forth, and as I call them out I’m going to write them down. When I’m finished, I’m going to ask you to recite back whatever numbers in the list you can remember. Is that clear?

“Sure Doctor,” replied Bobby.

“Ok, here we go”. At approximately one second intervals, Draper intoned, “729; 302; 128; 297; 186; 136; 423; 114; 169; 322; 873; 455; 388; 962; 666; 293; 725; 318; 131; 406.”

Bobby responded immediately with the full list in perfect order. He then asked Draper if he would like to hear it backwards. “Sure, why not,” replied Draper.

By the time Draper tired of this game, he was up to 80 numbers, each comprised of five digits. Bobby didn’t miss a single one. “Can we stop this game now please, Doctor? It’s getting pretty monotonous, don’t you think?”

Draper loosened his tie. He went through his remaining routines of tests and puzzles designed to gauge a person’s level of abstract mathematical reasoning, theoretical problem solving, linguistic nuances, and vocabulary. Rubbing his now oily face in his hands, he said, “Let’s take a break for a few minutes.”

“Why Doctor? I’m not tired.”

“Well, I am.”

Taking Bobby back to the waiting room, Draper apologized to Peter and Edith for the long period during which he had sequestered Bobby.

“Is everything alright, Doctor?” Edith asked.

“Why don’t you take Bobby to the cafeteria for a snack and meet me back here with him in thirty minutes,” Draper replied.

When the Austins returned to Draper’s office, Draper had two of his colleagues with him. He advised Peter and Edith that his associates would assist him in administering a few IQ tests to Bobby.

Peter’s eyes narrowed as he looked at Draper. “What does that have to do with the nightmares and trances, Doctor? We came here for those issues – not to have Bobby’s intelligence tested.”

“Be patient, please, Mr. Austin. Everything is inter-connected. We’re trying to get a complete picture.”

Draper and his associates, one a Ph.D in psychology and the other a Ph.D in education, administered three different types of intelligence tests to Bobby (utilizing abbreviated versions due to time constraints). First, the Slosson Intelligence Test, then the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – Revised (WISC-R) and finally, the Stanford-Binet L-M.

By the time the exams were concluded, Draper’s shirt was untucked and perspiration stains protruded from beneath his arms even though the room was cool. He brought Bobby back to the reception area, and took Peter and Edith into a corner of the room, out of Bobby’s earshot. “Your child isn’t normal. Are any of your other children like this?”

Book Excerpt: Two Empty Thrones by C.H. MacLean

Two Empty Thrones 2Title: Two Empty Thrones
Author: C.H. MacLean
Publisher: CNH Publishing
Pages: 242
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: Paperback; Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

With her powers growing every day, fourteen-year-old Haylwen Rightad thinks she’s safe in the magical forest. And now that she finally has the friends she always wanted, what is there to be afraid of?

But she’s not out of the woods yet. Old enemies rip through her beloved forest, threatening to haul Haylwen and her newfound friends away. Their safety shattered, Haylwen and her friends are suddenly at each other’s throats. Is the friendship she worked so hard for already ruined, or is there another, unseen enemy at work?

Haylwen and her brother must unmask this mysterious enemy before they can fight it off. But even if all their enemies are destroyed, the King of the magic users will stop at nothing to ensure he’s still in power when the dragons take over the world. And he’s hidden an enemy where Haylwen would never think to look.

If no one is what they seem, who can she trust?

Book Excerpt:

Haylwen heard a crash, the distant sound of breaking wood. She started walking, and then heard the sound of a chainsaw. She picked up the pace. Nacia was gesturing to the twins, who looked confused, then angry. They started running, sprinting past Haylwen. By the time Haylwen got to the farmhouse, the boys were standing next to Feabee on the porch, the three of them looking like thunderclouds.

Nacia ran over to stand with her mother, Topaz, just inside the door. They looked so much alike, one just an older version of the other, a mirror through time. Haylwen drifted to stand by her parents off to the side, while Cadarn stood by himself to the side of the porch. Everyone was looking down the path, to where the sounds of crashing branches and large motors were gradually coming closer. Feabee made an occasional gesture to the twins to let them know what the rest were hearing.

Haylwen blanched at a particularly loud crash, wincing. Her father looked at her questioningly. “They are trying to help, and it is hurting them,” Haylwen whispered. Her father held his questioning look for a moment. His eyes popped wide and suddenly narrowed as he heard what she’d said. He looked into the forest briefly and then turned and started to say something to Haylwen.

He was drowned out as a large, olive-green truck crashed through the last of the branches, leaves and twigs caught in its grille and hanging from the roof rack. It looked like some savage beast, a destroyer of trees. It revved its engine and then growled its way up the slope to stop halfway up. It backed off the dirt road onto the grass as a shiny black SUV quietly rolled out from the mangled tunnel of trees. After the SUV passed it, the truck threw itself in a roaring spin that threw chunks of green and mud behind it to block the road out. It sat there, engine still growling. The smell of diesel rolled up to the house.

The SUV pulled off the road and drove across the rolling lawn, leaving crushed grass in its wake. It stopped with the passenger side at the very edge of the farmhouse porch. The passenger door opened and a tall man in a charcoal suit stepped out, directly onto the porch.

With his blond hair chopped short, it took Haylwen a moment to recognize him. “Mr. Johansen,” she whispered, clutching her father and sliding behind him. Her ex-principal was here? A wave of fear washed over her, carrying memories of when he had grabbed her—the feel of his hands on her neck, the chemical smell of his car as he’d stuffed her in.

“You have nothing to fear from him,” her father said in a quiet, but stern, voice, tension rolling off of him.

Haylwen’s mother, Crystyn, leaned over, turning to look Haylwen in the eye. “He will never touch you again, I promise.” Crystyn stood, taking a couple of firm steps to stand a bit ahead of Haylwen and her father. Abrennin twitched away as Crystyn moved past him, like he had gotten a shock. He gave her a brief look of surprise and confusion, but she wasn’t paying attention.

“May I help you?” Feabee said. “You realize this is private property.”

Mr. Johansen took a step toward Feabee, a reddish hue seeping from him. Haylwen’s guts clenched. He was going to use magic to hurt Feabee!

Abrennin whispered something and then choked. Haylwen’s stomach twisted more, realizing what her father’s choking meant. With me and Cadarn here, our parents’ Oath is in effect. Mom and Dad can’t use magic. Her parents might protect her from a physical attack, but what about a magical one?

Feabee shot Abrennin a wide-eyed look and he nodded once. She blinked, then her jaw muscles jumped as a green glow slipped around her. Haylwen squeezed her father’s hand, a question. He smiled thinly and squeezed back. Of course, Feabee could use magic!

“I have information that you are willfully transgressing against federal law,” Mr. Johansen said. Haylwen gave a little gasp as a red arc shot from Mr. Johansen, a striking snake, to bounce off Feabee’s green shield. “You are harboring fugitives, aiding and abetting criminals.” Another red snake slithered along the ground, trying to work its way under Feabee’s shield.

Feabee shook her head with a smile.

“You think truancy laws are less important than any other?” Mr. Johansen said loudly, standing a bit taller. “We must make sure the children of society are safe.”

“My paperwork is in order and has not expired,” she said.

“Perhaps, but it only lists three students,” he sneered.

Haylwen looked over to Cadarn, sharing the look of guilt and fear that this was about them. Haylwen felt her fear twist into anger. Feabee, Nacia, and the twins were going to get in trouble because of her! She looked up at her father, who just held her hand and shook his head slightly.

“Actually, I submitted updated paperwork, which was received two days ago,” Feabee replied.

“And I was sent to confirm the information was accurate. We have the right to do an inspection for classes equal to, or larger than, five,” he said.

“There is no such law,” Feabee retorted, eyes narrowing.

“Law? Oh, I guess you didn’t see the express invitation to an inspection on the forms you completed?” he sneered. His red bubble pulsed. Several snakes struck as he said, “The forms you signed authorized the right of inspection with acceptance. We must make sure there is actual learning, to prevent child neglect.”

Feabee threw apologetic looks at Haylwen’s parents. “Invitation? I didn’t see…” Her green shield was weakening under the repeated attacks.

“You understand that the neglect laws include all students, correct?” The red intensified, and the attacking snakes grew in number. “Under the child abuse and neglect statutes, we have the authority to take all of the children into custody immediately,” Mr. Johansen said.

Haylwen watched as the green glow started to show tiny spots of black, gaps in the shield. Two more red snakes quickly shot out from Mr. Johansen, squirming against the black spots, trying to force their way in. Feabee looked resigned, trapped. Haylwen felt her father try to say something, but he tensed and choked.

“You have no authority here.” Haylwen gave a small gasp, hearing her mother’s voice with such power. “You will take your polluting trucks and leave immediately.” Crystyn stalked across the porch to stand ahead and to the side of Feabee, making Mr. Johansen shift to face her. Haylwen glanced up at her father, who was breathing easier. His face was an odd combination of confused and proud.

Mr. Johansen looked over Crystyn’s head, following where she had come from to see Haylwen and Abrennin standing there. He gave a little smirk, a twisted look of revenge.

“Ah, Mrs. Rightad. I see where your vandalizing daughter gets it.” Several thick red snakes slowly approached her mother. “If I leave, it will be with your truant children…”

A white glow erupted around Haylwen’s mother. Haylwen squinted, slightly blinded as the white glow around her mother flared even brighter, engulfing the snakes, obliterating them.

“You will leave with nothing,” her mother said in a tone that sent shivers down Haylwen’s spine. Her mother had locked eyes with Mr. Johansen. Though he was at least a foot taller, he seemed to shrink with each passing moment, while Haylwen’s mother seemed to grow. The white glow increased in intensity and size, washing like waves against the receding red of Mr. Johansen. “If you ever come close to either of my children again—”

“I did nothing, I have witnesses,” Mr. Johansen interrupted, momentarily straightening, the red pushing against the waves.

The white flared again, and Mr. Johansen took a step back. He had only the slightest hint of red around him now, flickering.

“You have nothing to withstand a mother protecting her child,” Haylwen heard her mother say, as another blinding flare of white pulsed out. Mr. Johansen took another step back, stumbling, withering even more under her fierce gaze.

Crystyn pointed her finger toward the SUV as another pulse of the white light washed over Mr. Johansen. “You and your agent’s invitations are revoked!” Haylwen’s mother nudged Feabee, who nodded once.

Mr. Johansen slid backward down the stairs, banging into the SUV, scrambling to open the door and get inside before being sucked away. He slammed the door closed, and the SUV’s idling engine roared, tires spitting grass and dirt in every direction. Everyone was pelted, but Haylwen noticed not a fleck hit her mother.

The SUV bounced down the hill as the olive-green truck tore out of the way. The black SUV disappeared into the tunnel as the truck spun around, engine roaring, tires clawing the ground, making a new set of wounds in the grassy field. A cold shiver crawled up Haylwen’s legs, tightening around her throat, as she looked at the ruined lawn. Even after the smell of exhaust had drifted away, the wounds were mocking proof they weren’t safe. It was only a matter of time.

Interview with Erna Mueller, author of ‘K-9 Cop’

Erna MuellerI was born in Austria and my family immigrated to the U.S. I loved living here as a child and considered the U.S. my home. My family returned to Austria and of course I had to tag along. I missed the friendly faces and the cultivation of the free spirit which America symbolizes. In Austria I completed my education but always wanted to return, so here I am.

I traveled the world and lived in many exciting cities such as Paris, Munich and London. I currently work as an accountant for a large pizza company in Seattle by day and passionately pursue a career as a writer in my spare time.

My new book, K-9 Cop, is adapted from my multi-national award winning screenplay.  The book has won several awards including first place in the 2009 National Good Read Competition sponsored by awomenswrite.com.

Please visit my web site at http://www.k9cop-woofwoof.com for more reviews and other info.

For More Information

K-9 Cop 2Can you tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your book?

I thought a Young Adult book would be a great idea to write for a first time novelist. I always loved family orientated books and movies and was searching for a story that depicts the human condition with all its splendor and frailties. What better way than through a surly cop who has to go back to earth in the body of his K-9 partner? The cop needs to help a troubled teenager and his dysfunctional family in order to be redeemed

Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?

N/A since I self-published.

Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books?

I live in a Burb in the Northwest near Seattle and we would meet at a Starbucks. We’d be the book junkies grazing with caffeine junkies and it’s raining outside, ah…the perfect afternoon.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?

I love good movies, spending time with fiends and pets.

Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job?

I am a mild mannered accountant by day and a passionate writer by night. I would love if my writing paid the bills but it doesn’t so I’m glad I have a great day job.

In your opinion, what makes a good book great?

A book that depicts the human condition with all its splendor and frailties. It has to make me laugh and cry and after I turn the last page it needs to stick in my mind.

Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?

Ever since I can remember, a writer.

Can you give us a short excerpt from your book?

Chapter Seven
GOOD HEAVENS!

“Holy moly! I’m dead! And God is a woman!”

“Slow down!” The angel laughed like tinkling chimes. “I’m not God. I was once a mortal, just like you.” She offered Spencer a hand, and pulled him to his feet.

“And where am I? Am I…?

“Dead.” The angel tittered.

He brushed himself off. “At least I made it into Heaven.”

“Well, not quite.”

“What does that mean?”

The angel stared into his eyes. “It means you’re not ready. Not for a while.”

Spencer’s eyebrows shot up. “Not ready for Heaven? I’m quite ready, thank you. What’s my room number?”

The angel shook her head.

“Seriously? Why not? Hey, did I know you? Because if I did, I’m sorry that I didn’t call you the next day. I lost your number in the wash.”

“No.” The angel looked across the vast cloudscape, to the open doors of a great gilded throne-room. She spoke in a singsong voice and shook her head defensively. “He knows that I was never that desperate. I’m a gatekeeper. You’re not going into Heaven, not yet. Not in your condition.” The angel raised her brows at him, leaned her shoulders, and settled a hand on a hip. Her golden aura glowed as she glared at Spencer, a force that burned through him.

He dropped to his knees. “But I spent my whole life putting scumbags behind bars.”

“We know. And our Department of Works appreciates that, but you’re not on the gatekeeper’s checklist.” The Angel snapped her fingers and an easel appeared, with a large pad of visual aids. She glanced at the chart and tapped Spencer’s chest. “It says here you have a sub-zero storage locker where your heart should be.”

“No!”

“Yes. Let me put it in spiritual terms. You’re a jerk, Spencer Watley, and jerks need to pass the J.R.P. before they can get in.”

“What’s the J.R.P and how does it work?”

“I’m so glad you asked.” She snapped her fingers, and a page on the easel turned. “It stands for the Jerk Redemption Program. The standard tour is one-hundred years of service in the Department of Works surveillance department . . .” She checked the chart. “Monitoring daytime talk shows. You know, like Oprah and Dr. Phil. That should make you nice and sensitive.”

“Noo!” howled Spencer.

The angel bent to read smaller print. “Oh, and not just cable, but all stations globally.”

“If that’s your idea of redemption, what did your people put together for Hell? I’d never survive a stakeout that long. Please, anything but that!” Spencer hands clasped before him.

“You can’t blame me for everything. Maybe if my dad had helped me, I would have been a much better person. I never had a father’s guidance and it crippled me. You must have a spiritually handicapped department? I may not have been Mr. Nice Guy, but I had other redeeming qualities.”

The angel snapped again, turning her easel to a checklist, blank except for two marks. “You were a great cop, no doubt about that. And you never stole cable. Those are the only redeeming qualities in the man before me.”

Spencer crept closer to the angel, nodded and whispered righteously. “But I always put the toilet seat down.”

“Again, those are Department of Works issues. You see, you followed all the rules, but that’s only a small part of being a good person. More importantly, did you love your fellow man? What about empathy, understanding, and patience – all the things that make the human race divine? Remember what the big Boss said? ‘Whatever you do to your fellow man, you do unto me.’”

She sighed, and pointed to a giant cement fortress. “It’s that building over there. Just tell the doorman you’re a jerk, and he’ll give you the paperwork to fill out.”

What’s next for you?

My Audio book of K-9 Cop will be out in October.