Beyond the Books

Never Go Alone by Denison Hatch

 

Hot off the presses! NEVER GO ALONE by Denison Hatch is
available now! Please a comment below and say hi!
Title:
Never Go Alone
Author: Denison Hatch
Publisher: Lookout Press
Pages: 300
Genre: Thriller/Mystery/Police Procedural

A rash of elaborate cat burglaries of luxury buildings in Manhattan has the police and mayor panicked. When a group of social media obsessed millennials—a loosely organized crew that call themselves “urban explorers”—are suspected in the heists, NYPD detective Jake Rivett is assigned the case.

Already undercover with one foot on each side of the blue line, Rivett is ordered to infiltrate the group and discern responsibility. Battling against both his own personal demons and misgivings regarding his superiors, Rivett dives deep into the urban exploration scene in pursuit of the truth. But what, and who, he finds—deep in the sewers, up in the cranes above under-construction skyscrapers, and everywhere else in New York—will change not only Jake, but the city itself.

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Book Excerpt:

Two feet hammered the pavement. With movement as rapid as it was controlled, the explorer’s muscles tensed for what was to come. The target, all twenty stories of unabashedly neo-classical splendor, towered across the street. Infiltrating the building would be easy, but the next step was difficult. And the rest? Brilliant meets impossible.
The explorer was wearing a small camera on his chest, which captured his viewpoint with slightly shaky but high-definition clarity. A parking post stood ahead—cement poured into a strong iron tube. The man sprinted forward and vaulted onto the post. He maintained his momentum, springing off the top of the post onto an enormous industrial air-conditioning unit. Now eight feet in the air, he had only one stride before his next jump. He sailed through the empty air, arms outstretched, fingers tensing—a twelve-foot-high brick wall ahead. Just reaching the wall, the explorer’s fingers grasped the edge. His right hand couldn’t find traction. His fingernails scraped desperately as he started to fall. But two fingers on his left hand did their job. He hung on, swinging precariously before centering himself and pulling his body up and over the wall.
The explorer dropped down on the other side. His body contracted into a tight ball as he careened toward the construction gravel below. At the last moment, he rotated and achieved a rolling landing—lessening gravity’s impact. He came to a stop. Breathing heavily, he took a brief respite from the task at hand. His chest heaved as he peered around the construction site that he’d just infiltrated. He knew that a lone security guard sat in a booth on the other side of the block. But he also knew the guard was engrossed in his cell phone, only stopping occasionally to gaze onto an adjoining street. As long as the explorer was quiet, the guard would be none the wiser. The coast was clear. He reached for a mic attached to the side strap of his backpack.
“All silent. Only one clown in the circus,” the explorer whispered into the microphone. Still out of breath, he reached for his hydration tube and took a long sip of water. Then he rotated and watched as three more compatriots covertly slid over the top of the tall brick wall.
They each hit the ground in the same rolling manner, limiting trauma with expert precision. The entire crew was clad in dark outdoor technical clothes, breathable shirts, top-of-the-line Gore-Tex pants and trail runners with all reflective surfaces blocked out by black Sharpie. Their faces were covered by bandanas or ski masks. Respirators, climbing gear, knives, and cameras were both hanging from and strapped to their belts and backpacks.
The crew split in three different directions, acting as lookouts for any errant guard or construction manager onsite in the middle of the night. It was unlikely, but their plans called for extreme caution. That’s what had made them so successful—their secret sauce was not daring; it was preparation. After confirming that the others were in position, the explorer focused on the mission at hand.
An enormous tower crane stood against the edge of the construction site. Built like a towering T, the machine’s base was a concrete shithouse holding up three hundred feet of crisscrossing steel. The explorer expertly grabbed the side of the crane. Instead of heading for the control booth at the bottom, he simply began to ascend up the latticework that made up the sides—hands followed by legs on an upstream ladder.
Stopping midway to catch his breath, the man couldn’t help but look down. Vertigo’s tendrils reached out like forbidden fruit. His foot wavered to catch hold of a one-inch bar of the latticework. But he controlled the panic, centered himself, and continued climbing.
A few minutes later, the explorer reached the top of the crane. He pulled himself over the T’s edge and gazed along the hundred-and-fifty-foot-length atop the long horizontal span. Instead of traversing in the direction of the construction site from which he’d originated, the explorer headed the opposite way. Careful with the placement of his feet, he headed towards the side of the crane that extended halfway across the street below. It was a slow process. The latticework consisted of both ninety-degree and diagonal pieces of steel, like a series of bars with a crosshatch pattern strung across it. And between the pieces of the crane’s structure was nothing—a dark void. One misstep, one hesitation, one dash of grease and the explorer would plummet over twenty stories through thin air and become one with the blacktop of the city. It was not a pleasant thought, making the already difficult process deeply nerve-wracking.
“You will not bust.” The man talked himself through the fear as he reached the far end of the crane. He was now extended as far across the street below as the machinery would take him.
The explorer gazed down the gleaming city from the Upper West Side, all the way through Midtown and into Chelsea. It was more than a place now, more than a landscape. By this point at its evolution, Manhattan represented a geospatial-and-social coordinate on the razor’s edge of modernity. It was no longer what the future could be. It was the future itself, right now, happening in front of one’s eyes and reaching the stage of infinite singularity. As the years had gone on, the surfaces of the metropolis had become smooth, the lights perfect, the façades utterly complete. It no longer beckoned for the masses humbly—it repelled them. The construction site the explorer had ascended from would soon consist of glass, marble, and sex. That was all, and that was everything, and if one was rich enough, one could buy it. The new culture didn’t care for culture itself. It did not bow to subtlety of argument or freedom of soul. It only knew money—astronomical levels of money. The only people who could afford to live here would be the progeny of sovereign wealth fund managers, tech moonshot winners, and industrial titans. Nothing was free, for anyone—not even the views.
Except for our explorer—right now. It was his, alone. He admired the panorama of New York. Yes, there was the mission, but this was deserving of a photograph. He pulled the camera off his chest harness, activated selfie mode, and turned it towards himself. He lined up, framing the background of the city behind him. Click. The camera’s flash erupted. He flipped his hand down, as if to form an upside down V slogan. Click. Another flash—another selfie—his face shrouded by a hood throughout the entire process.
Having finished memorializing the scene, the man ducked down towards the crane. As he secured something to the crane, he gazed away from the construction site and towards his target.
A sharp contrast to the modern structures popping up like weeds, the limestone apartment building across the street was built during the turn of the century—the last century, not this. Its hulking body did not undulate as it rose. Instead the building consisted of strong vertical bands that ran up to form elaborate choragic arches and support the pointed top of the roof. Four large penthouse balconies graced each corner of the building, easily visible to the explorer who stood above them on the crane. He breathed deeply, then jumped off the crane into the darkness below.
Suspended by a climbing rope, the man careened from the top of the crane and over the street, until he was positioned directly above the penthouse balcony of the old building. The pendulum continued, however, and he swung back.
The second time he was ready. His toes landed lithely on the penthouse’s balcony. He paced towards the enclosed glass greenhouse. One of the small windows of the greenhouse was unlatched, exposing a sliver of access.
The explorer carefully maneuvered the window open.
He climbed into the penthouse.
And the city’s lights twinkled as if nothing had happened at all . . .

About the Author
denison-hatch

Denison Hatch is a screenwriter and novelist based in Los Angeles. Although he lives in the proverbial desert now, he is originally from Delaware—land of rolling hills and DuPont gunpowder. Denison has a number of feature and television projects in development, including his original screenplay, Vanish Man, which is set up at Lionsgate. A graduate of Cornell University, Denison lives with his wife and big dog in a little house in Hollywood. Never Go Alone is the second novel in the Jake Rivett series.

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Book Blast! Roping the Cowboy – 9 Romances on the Range by the authors of Romance Books ‘4’ Us

roping-the-cowboy-banner


We invite you to Marianne Stephens for authors at Romance Books ‘4’ Us’ ROPING THE COWBOY: 9 ROMANCES ON THE RANGE Book Blast today at Beyond the Books! Marianne and the authors will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Leave a comment on each of their tour stops for extra entries!


roping-the-cowboy

Inside the Book:

Title: Roping the Cowboy: 9 Romances on the Range
Author: Marianne Stephens for authors at Romance Books ‘4’ Us
Publisher: Romance Books ‘4’ Us
Pages: 306
Genre: Mixed Romance Genres

Sweet through sizzling collection of love stories includes contemporary, period, and historical romance, otherworldly romance, and romance with a touch of magic.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Excerpt:

The Shadows in Our Past by Denyse Bridger

“I wanted a father, and I got Jonas Wilkes. I needed to trust him, and he made me feel…” She shuddered, visibly changed her train of thought. “Then I met you; Gold Ridge’s most respected citizen. I’d never met anyone quite like you, David Logan. You were handsome, sophisticated, powerful… What was it Margaret called you? A charming outlaw.” She smiled. “She was right, that’s exactly what you are. But you took my breath away the moment I saw you. I will never forget that day, or turning around to see you on the stairs of the Nugget, all elegance and danger. You terrified me, and you excited me. I felt things in those first seconds that I have never felt before. My God, David, I think I fell in love with you before you even spoke to me.”

“You do know how to flatter me, Hannah,” he whispered.

“But it’s not flattery, David. Every time you walk into a room, you make my heart feel like it’s going to burst with the love that fills me. I can’t believe you’re my husband. That you chose to give me that much of your life.”

She smiled, tilted her head to one side, whimsical yet more serious than he’d ever seen her.

“Finish, Hannah,” he requested. “I want to know what you’re feeling.”

“Do you remember the first time you kissed me?”

He nodded.

“I would have behaved like a common whore for you that day, and it frightened me to death, David. I was with a fine, Southern gentleman. A man well-bred, respected, all the things that a lady wants. And instead of being a lady, I was ready toÄ”

His laughter stopped her abruptly.

“You do yourself a great disservice, Mrs. Logan,” he teased tenderly. “Any gentleman is still susceptible to the charms of a lovely woman. And you do take away my sense of propriety, Hannah.”

“The first time you made love to me, I was certain that God had put me on this earth to belong to you, David. You gave me everything that my heart had ever wanted, even the things I didn’t let myself hope for. I felt safe, and whole, at peace. Every time you touch me, I feel that way. Beautiful… complete…”

“Then why are you so afraid, Hannah?”

“I don’t want to be,” she said fiercely. “I hate it, David! I despise myself for feeling like this. ButÄ”

“But?” he coaxed gently.

“Elizabeth was right,” she put her fingers to his mouth when he would have objected instantly. “She was right about some things, David. I’ll never know you the way Ellen did. I’m not from the same world. Your Southern honor is one of the things I love most about you, but it’s a mystery to me, too. You were married and fighting in a war when I was little more than a baby at my mother’s breast. Your soul was scarred in ways that I can only imagine.” Tears flooded her eyes as she stared up at him. “David, the sun in my world rises and sets in your eyes.” She gulped in a sharp breath. “I’ve never needed anyone that much, and it frightens me.”

David nodded, lifted her hands to his lips again as he kissed the fingers that shook within his light grasp; then he looked intently at her.

“Will you listen to me now?”

“Of course,” she replied, voice thick with emotion. She watched as he rose, took the other chair on the balcony, and set it directly in front of her. Then he sat and took her hands again.


Meet the Authors

This sweet through sizzling collection of love stories includes contemporary, period, and historical romance, otherworldly romance, and romance with a touch of magic by Award-winning and Bestselling Authors: Janice Seagraves, Nicole Morgan, Rose Anderson, Denyse Bridger, Gemma Juliana, Michele Zurlo, Tina Donahue, Krista Ames, and Suz deMello.

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Marianne & crew are giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway ends midnight January 27.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on February 1.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

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First Chapter Reveal: Dominion #scifi #sciencefiction

dominion

Title: DOMINION: FIRE AND ICE
Author: D.A. Hewitt
Publisher: Double Dragon eBooks
Pages: 372
Genre: Science Fiction

It’s the year 2075. Lunar mining and processing facilities have prospered near the lunar south pole, where the Moon’s largest city, Valhalla, rests on the rim of the Shackleton Crater.

Dominion Off-Earth Resources has beaten the competition into space and is ready to establish its monopoly with the opening of the orbiting space resort Dominion. But Pettit Space Industries has a secret plan to emerge as a major contender in the commercialization of space. The upstart company is training the first space rescue squad at a secluded off-grid site in Barrow, Alaska.

The rescue squad gets nearly more than it can handle when its first mission involves the Pope, who’s traveling to the Moon to establish the Lunar See. During the rescue attempt, they discover Earth is imperiled by an asteroid large enough to cause mass extinction. Using the unique skills taught during their training, skills emphasized by the great psychoanalyst Carl Jung, these Jungi Knights must elevate their game if they are to save both the Earth and the Pope—while not getting killed in the process.

Purchase at Amazon

 

Chapter 1

 

Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.

~ Joseph Conrad

The bus chortled as it slowed, the magnetic-drive treads slowing their frenzied snow-gyrating pace. “Barrow, Alaska,” the driver said cheerily enough. “Only five percent of the world’s land mass is as far from the equator. Average temperature in January, minus twenty-five Celsius.” White billowing clouds churned briefly from the exhaust. The engine cut off. The driver stood, facing his six passengers, and said, “We’re here.”

I grabbed my bag, slung it over my shoulder, and headed for the front, shivering reflexively.

“Last chance to back out,” the driver added as the last of us stepped onto the frozen snow. His breath lingered as white mist. He looked questioningly at us and played with the door control, flapping it at us, taunting us.

We were standing in front of a Quonset hut, bundled in parkas and survival clothing, enough to keep us warm for days in the most extreme climates. And I counted Barlow, Alaska, as one of those.

“Go on—get out of here!” the tallest of us barked at the driver. I didn’t know any of their names, but from what I’d gathered from the sparse chit-chat on the drive from Prudhoe Bay (no reason was given for why we hadn’t continued the flight from Juneau to Barrow instead of the drop-off and subsequent bus ride in), this guy was the most gung-ho among us.

The driver smiled. “I’ll be back to pick up any dropouts.” He closed the door, picked up his comm device, and spoke briefly into it.

One moment, we were staring at the bus—I can do this, I will do this—and the next we were all spinning in response to a deep voice projecting out from where the Quonset hut door had slammed open.

“The sheep have arrived!” the voice boomed.

He stood in the doorframe as the door banged against him in the stiffening arctic wind. For a moment, he seemed stuck there, his massive shoulders too wide, his girth too large to fit through. Then he took a step back, spun, and said, “Follow me!”

I’d been thinking my life was getting stranger and stranger as of late, and the next thing that happened cemented that thought-trend in my mind, because we stepped into a room heated to tropical temperatures, the ground covered in sand. The room took the entire width of the Quonset hut. One other door on the opposite wall from the door we’d just entered was the room’s only other exit.

“Throw down your stuff anywhere,” the bulky man said, dropping his parka, revealing himself to be wearing only green shorts and a white muscle shirt. His chest was enormous (ah, the booming voice), and he thumped it when he caught me looking at him. He appeared Polynesian. His skin was dark and his black hair was tied back in a ponytail, thick and scruffy.

“My name today is Mister Chenga,” the Polynesian announced. Whenever he spoke, everyone’s head turned to him as though his voice subconsciously demanded our attention. “Take off your clothes to your underwear and then take a seat.”

“Where do we sit?” one of the girls—the short blonde—asked with what sounded like a Russian accent. “There are no chairs.”

The Polynesian’s face scrunched up as though he had just tasted something awful. He began jumping up and down, repeating the question to himself with his attempt at a high-pitch voice, “Where do we sit? Where do we sit? Where do we sit?

The girl back-stepped cautiously.

The Polynesian stopped jumping and stared at her. In an oddly calm voice, he said, “On the sand.”

Da. I did not want to get you excited,” the girl said evenly.

Mister Chenga nodded slowly, squinting at her. I’m sure she felt she was being marked as a potential troublemaker. As we began undressing, he walked a few meters away from the group and faced us. “Listen up. I’m sure you don’t want to make me mad, so the first thing you need to understand is that there is such a thing as a stupid question.” He paused and stared at the girl.

The girl visibly gulped. She was attractive, now that I was getting to see more of her. Blonde hair, angular face, stunningly beautiful, petite body. I doubted she cleared much over a meter and a half. She looked to have a wiry strength, a tight, taut body like a gymnast’s. Her underwear was black.

How in the hell did she come to volunteer for this?

“I’ll get back to stupid questions later,” Mister Chenga said. “In the meantime, listen closely. For today, call me Mister Chenga. If today goes well, tomorrow you may call me Cheng.” He grinned and spread his arms wide.

For a moment, he looked friendly with a pleasant demeanor.

“It’s more efficient,” he explained. “In a rescue situation, shorter names save time.” He looked at the northern wall. Along the ceiling, a number of slogans were displayed.

Mister Chenga’s gaze lingered on the phrase Timing is everything before continuing. “If today doesn’t go well, tomorrow you’ll again call me Mister Chenga. Is that clear?”

Several of us responded.

“Yeah.”

“Sure.”

“Okay.”

Mister Chenga’s forehead knotted up, as though concern rippled his skin directly via energy seeping out from the front of his brain. “It would be quicker, more efficient, if the group answers as one. I suggest a unified response such as ‘Yes, Mister Chenga,’ would serve you well.”

Everyone was as naked as we were going to get—in our underwear—and we were sitting in a semi-circle around the Polynesian. “Yes, Mister Chenga,” we mumbled.

“Good enough for now,” Mister Chenga said. He dropped to a knee, then somewhat laboriously rocked his weight back and settled into a sitting position. He shifted his butt from side to side, sweeping sand away, furrowing himself in. “It’s time we introduce ourselves. I’ll be checking for signs of grid‑loss syndrome.”

Most people never left the grid. With medical alert and GPS implants, medical response times had been cut to under thirty seconds on average for grid dwellers. The risk of death from an accident while off-grid was too great for most. Extended stays at sea? Caribbean cruises? No problem, the grid went with you, ready to stabilize any wound, any condition, until you could be ferried to the nearest medical facility capable of restoring your health.

Some people did leave the grid, though. There were two main groups of them—adventurers who traveled to extreme Earth climates such as Barrow, Alaska, and off-earthers.

The off-earthers worked in space and on the Moon, which in recent years had a rapidly growing population due to expanding lunar excavation and processing sites. The population was growing so fast that the first lunar bank had opened last year, which prompted financial institutions into a chaotic flurry of mergers and acquisitions. (The winners were the early investors in asteroid mining, especially palladium and other precious metals and rare earths. There were two of them—Pettit Space Industries (PSI) and Dominion Off-Earth Resources (DOER). The Vatican, because of its investments in DOER was also reaping rewards.)

I’d been off-planet enough to know being off-grid wouldn’t be a problem for me. The symptoms were jitters followed by profuse sweating and episodes of hysteria. Fairly easy to spot, especially now since we were all half naked.

Mister Chenga cleared his throat. “I don’t care if you introduced yourselves on the bus. We’ll do it again. Who wants to start?”

Nobody answered. I took the opportunity to examine the other recruits. Six of us in all. Two girls. The blonde gymnast I had already admired and another girl who was taller with black hair and a muscular body; in fact, it was so well muscled, I couldn’t help but think she was a wrestler.

Actually, there’s a wrestling hold I’ve been meaning to try …

Shut up and pay attention, I told myself.

The tall guy looked strong and quick, like he could handle himself in a fight. His eyes seemed to perpetually gleam like he was calculating odds of schemes that were constantly percolating in his mind.

The other two guys didn’t appear to be as strong as the tall, cocky guy. I figured them to be forest ranger types, people who fare well outdoors and who like to hike and climb and do all the nature crap. One of them wore glasses, wire rims no less. It was hard to imagine why anyone opted for spectacles in this age of correctable vision.

“You,” Mister Chenga said, pointing at the guy wearing the spectacles. “Introduce yourself. Give me a synopsis of your life.” His head swiveled as he examined his sheep. “And when I say synopsis, I mean, be brief.” He returned his gaze to the man wearing glasses. “And explain why you forgo the corrective procedure for eyesight.”

“Name’s Maxwell Lolande, but everyone calls me Max.” He took off his glasses and gently cleaned them with the bottom of his t-shirt. “Studies indicate a certain amount of blurred vision can actually increase reaction time for athletes. Something to do with mirror neurons, which react to anticipated visual stimuli, not actual vision per se. Do you see the difference?” He chuckled and pushed his glasses back onto his nose. “Never mind. Anyway, vision isn’t the only means by which to collect data.”

“Background?” Mister Chenga asked.

“Sensors.” Max’s eyes narrowed. “I may not be the quickest here, or the strongest, but I can guarantee I’ll have the best sources of information.”

Mister Chenga grunted. “What kind of information?”

“Whatever you want. I deployed a few sensors before we came inside. My outdoor drones are measuring every centimeter of this facility. From the outside, of course. I don’t want to press my luck yet.”

Mister Chenga jumped up, lunged forward, and ended up crouched in the sand by the belongings of Maxwell Lolande. He picked up Max’s backpack (crimson color, a tree intricately woven with golden thread into the back flap), rummaged through it, making sounds as though it were a bag of silverware, then dropped it and stood. “I rely on my eyes,” he said, returning to his spot. “And you sound French to me. Are you French?”

“No, Mister Chenga. American.”

Pffft. Aren’t we all.”

“I may have French ancestry.”

“Well, the French are good at helping others in battle, but on their own, not so much.”

“Yes, well, instead of going to battle, this is supposed to be a rescue squad, right? That’s what we’re here for—a high-profile team that rescues stranded people who had enough money to get lost in the Alaskan wilderness.”

“That’s the plan,” Mister Chenga agreed. “If you can pass this training course.”

“So far, so good,” Max said.

“You’re still calling me Mister Chenga, so I guess it’s still early. What’ve you studied? What’s your specialty?”

“Physics. Communications. Robotics. And of course, sensors.”

Mister Chenga grunted again. “Well, if I need a weather forecast, I’ll know where to go.”

I suspected—no, knew—Mister Chenga had files on every one of us and figured he must have a reason for asking questions for which he already knew the answers. I thought of asking him but didn’t want to be accused of asking a dumb question.

No matter. Ten weeks or so of basic training, and I’m out.

Mister Chenga looked to his right, where the blonde gymnast sat. “What about you?”

Her voice was high-pitched, her body slight in nature (and yet so … hmmm, limber). “Julia Lipniski. I go by Julia. I study general science. But Mister Pettit recruited me because my endurance is high. And I fit in narrow spaces. Good traits for rescue team, da?”

Or maybe he selected you because you’re bubbling with enthusiasm and a can-do attitude.

“Perhaps,” Mister Chenga said. “You cross-country ski?”

“I am Olympic skater. Skate more than ski. But da. I train to strengthen my legs by cross-country skiing. Kilometer after kilometer. I love it.”

I couldn’t imagine anyone enjoying cross-country skiing. Why not go to a mountain, take a lift, and then just blast your way downhill? But no, some people liked to exert themselves and sweat, kilometer after kilometer …

Mister Chenga turned to the other female in our group. “And our other lady representative?”

The dark-haired girl laughed. “A lady? I’m guessing you haven’t read my application.”

“It was a figure of speech,” Mister Chenga said. “So you think you’re tough?”

“Damn straight,” she said.

“Watch your French!” Mister Chenga told her.

“I didn’t speak French. I swore. In English. If you don’t know the difference, I’ve got to ask myself what the hell I’m doing here.”

“I said watch your French!”

“You don’t want me to swear?”

“None of you,” Mister Chenga said. “Not yet anyway.”

“Fine. Why didn’t you say so? Have it your way. No more swearing. No more French.” She took a deep breath before continuing. “Name’s Kelly Cook. Bounty hunter. Some people say I work too hard on my attitude, but I say to hell with them.”

Mister Chenga sighed, mumbled something about dramatics, and turned to me. “Well, well, allow me to make this introduction. This is Doug Pettit, son of the late Harve Pettit, who founded Pettit Space Industries. He’s a bit of a loner. His educational background is scattered. His main employment is heading foundations.”

“Not any more,” I said. “Things have changed. It seems my dad figured he’d be doing me a favor by making me earn a living.”

“I know of the will,” Mister Chenga said.

“Right. I’m not in it. But I’ll be up front with you, Mister Chenga, because you seem like a straightforward kind of guy.”

A few snickers answered this assessment.

“You’ll get honest effort out of me,” I told him, “and I’m going to pass this boot camp, but then I’m taking the bonus and opting out.”

Mister Chenga smiled broadly. “Of course you are! Not a problem.”

I squinted, unable to detect any sign of deception. “That doesn’t bother you?”

“No. Everyone here signed the same contract. Everyone can take their bonus—enough to live on for ten years, I might add—and opt out after passing this training course. It’s either that or sign up for a five-year enlistment. Why should it bother me?”

“You’re going to spend a lot of hours training us. Seems you’d like to reap the fruits of your labor. Who wants to assemble a team only to see people quit?”

“I understand your concern, Doug Pettit. What I you fail to grasp is that I know something you don’t.”

“Enlighten me.”

“If you do pass this training course, this boot camp as you call it, you’ll be a different person. You’ll not think the same as you do today. I’d not make any future predictions based on how you feel at this moment. If I were you, that is.”

It was my turn to snicker. “Well, la de da. I guess we’re good then.”

Mister Chenga snorted and turned to the tall cocky guy on my left. They chatted after Archibald Blake Tannenbaum—just call me Blake—told Mister Chenga his name. Blake explained he was a test pilot and could handle any emergency situation with a cool precision that made disaster responders drool.

I tried to even my breathing. Mister Chenga had brought up the will. My blood pressure had been rising since, my breath growing shallower. Dad thinks he cut me out. He should’ve realized I may not be Harve Pettit caliber, but I can be resourceful when necessary.

Growing calmer, I casually looked around. The blonde skater—Julia—dug her heels into the sand as though conditioned to exercise her muscles during off-training hours. The others ran their hands through the sand, occasionally glancing down while sifting sand through their fingers, familiarizing themselves with this place by experiencing the tactile feel of the heated grit, making themselves at home. The sand was brownish, most likely reconstituted glass. It had the same feel as natural sand, the same as on a Carolina beach in August, with the heat pressing down, and the girl in the adjacent suite getting frisky with me in our own little Margarita-ville.

Shut up, I told myself. You and your stupid hormones will get us into trouble.

“And last but not least, introduce yourself,” Mister Chenga said, facing the last of the recruits, a thinner, blonder version of Blake. He had optimistic blue eyes but a gaunt face.

“Robert Montarro, but please call me Rob. I’m one of those new breed of environmentalists who actually travel outside the cities into the wildernesses they’re trying to protect.”

“Well, pat yourself on the back for that,” Mister Chenga said.

“I also have underwater experience, cold-water.”

“That could come in handy,” Mister Chenga admitted.

“And I’m eager.”

“We’ll see how long that lasts.”

Rob frowned but said nothing.

Mister Chenga stood and paced back and forth in front of us. “Now that we’ve introduced ourselves, I’m going to teach you your first lesson. If you aren’t complete knuckleheads, we should get through it in less than an hour. Afterward, I’ll show you to your quarters. Everyone pairs up in a room. You’ll freshen up. Dinner is in two hours. After dinner, you’ll meet your mentor for this training.”

“I thought you were our mentor,” Julia said. I liked the sound of her voice—like a songbird’s, high and melodic—and I wondered how a suggestion of bunking with her would be received.

“I’m your trainer. I am here to test you. Your mentor is here to help you.”

“What’s our mentor’s name?” I asked.

“Your mentor will introduce himself,” Mister Chenga said. He marched across the sand, through the door opposite the one we’d entered. A few moments later, he returned. Behind him, there was a narrow passageway with bulkheads. I could see the end of the passageway at the far end of the Quonset hut, where there appeared to be a dining area.

Mister Chenga lumbered toward us and tossed a baseball-size rock onto the sand in the center of our semi-circled group.

We stared at it as though expecting a beanstalk to emerge.

Mister Chenga returned to his position, just beyond the rock, sitting in the depression he’d made. “Before I begin the lesson, I want to be clear about what we’re doing here.”

“We all signed contracts,” Blake pointed out. “We understand why we’re here. What didn’t they tell us?”

Mister Chenga laughed. “There is much we’re not telling you, but you wouldn’t understand yet. You’re sheep. You can’t see past the ends of your noses. You’re all dogs chasing your tails.”

“Excuse me,” the bounty hunter, Kelly Cook, interrupted. “I’m not a dog.”

“And my sensors can perceive data well beyond the human range of perception,” Max noted, “well past my nose.”

Mister Chenga slowly shook his head. “There is power out there that your sensors won’t pick up.”

Max frowned and I almost laughed because his face scrunched up and his glasses moved up his nose, pushed by his cheeks as though in physical response to hearing something blasphemous. “What power?”

“The power of the mind, of the unconscious.”

Blake tossed a handful of sand toward the rock. “I’ve been through this before, Mister Chenga. I’m sure anyone like Julia who has gone through extensive physical training has, too. You’re talking about motivational tools. Will power.”

“Very perceptive, Blake. It’s more than that, quite a bit more, but let’s start with that. Yes, we’ll learn motivational tools to bolster, indeed to undergird, our will power.”

To me, it sounded like we were going to be subjected to a series of rah‑rah routines. We’d be expected to keep a stiff upper lip and to never quit even in the worst of conditions.

Not necessarily a bad mindset to have, though, in subzero temperatures, skiing cross-country in blizzard conditions, freezing wind shrieking through the pines as we race to save someone who fell off a mountainside.

“Contractually, you’re obligated to pass this training course or your contract is void. We have ten weeks scheduled. It’s a one-time shot. If after ten weeks you haven’t passed this course, we ship you back to Anchorage.”

Several heads nodded.

Mister Chenga smiled and spread his arms wide. “But if you pass, you get your bonus and we throw a big party!” He laughed. “And after the party, you get a two-week leave and then report to start your five-year duty.”

I cleared my throat.

Mister Chenga sighed. “Or take your bonus and opt out.”

“The ten-week training course doesn’t count toward the five years?” the environmentalist—Rob—asked.

“No, as clearly stated in the contract.”

Rob nodded as though confirming he remembered reading that particular passage, but the nod was too hesitant to be convincing.

“And so,” Mister Chenga continued, “it’s time we start. What you’ll be doing here in this training course is, for the most part, expanding on this first lesson I’m about to teach you.” He pointed at the rock. “Can someone tell me what that is?” He leered at us, his gaze wandering from one set of eyes to another, daring us to answer stupidly.

I’m sure if there’re dumb questions, there must be dumb answers.

“I don’t need a sensor to inform you, Mister Chenga,” Max said, adjusting the position of his wire-rim glasses, “that the object you’ve tossed into the sand is a rock.”

“Yes!” Mister Chenga said, clapping his hands. He appeared genuinely excited, as though our group had passed some kind of mid-term exam. He pointed at the rock, a rather unattractive piece of coal and lead. “A rock, indeed. Now, there are two kinds of objects in this universe. One of them is what we will call rock. Is that clear?”

“Yes, Mister Chenga,” we chorused.

“Anyone care to guess what the other kind of object is?”

“Living things,” I said.

I could feel everyone’s stare, but I simply looked at the sand in front of me, where I was tracing a series of short, parallel furrows.

“Let’s call them emergent beings,” Mister Chenga said. “Everyone agrees living things are beings. They are emergent in that their identity as such—who or what they are—is defined by conscious activity over time. Consciousness is emergent. If time stopped, you’d have a rock of a body and no consciousness. With the ingredient of time is added, consciousness comes into being.”

“Living things, emergent beings, same difference to me,” Blake said.

“And what am I?” Mister Chenga asked.

“According to your definition,” Blake answered, “a living thing, an emergent being.”

“Although,” I added, trying not to visualize the thought of Mister Chenga dead, with medical first responder drones blaring a waaaah sound of failure, “once you’re dead, your body will no longer be an emergent anything.” I nodded toward the rock.

“You’re body is a rock at that point,” Max added.

Da,” Julia agreed. “Dust to dust.”

“Right,” Mister Chenga said, “but until then, my body is part of me. It’s alive, as am I.”

I thought about asking if he thought his body and him were one and the same, but I had a feeling that was going to be a takeaway from a future lesson.

“Now,” Mister Chenga continued, “all of you emergent beings focus your attention on the rock, your conscious attention.”

We stared intently.

“Note its texture, see its color, sense its mass.”

As the seconds passed, I became aware of everyone’s breathing. The room was quiet. The sand on the ground and the snow blanketing the roof of the Quonset hut dampened the sound of wind outside. Time seemed to slow, and I relaxed.

This is like meditation. Maybe this boot camp isn’t going to be so difficult after all.

As though in a trance, Mister Chenga softly said, “I want someone to make the rock move across the room.”

I frowned. What kind of mumbo jumbo is this? I glanced away from the rock at the others. Julia, Rob, and Max were glaring at the rock as though directing their anger at it—trying to make the rock move by hating it?

Rob was looking at the rock, but his eyes darted occasionally back and forth as though confusion jabbed at him.

“I can do it,” Blake said, pushing himself up. “It’s a think‑outside‑the‑box lesson.” He stepped to the rock, picked it up, and walked outside the semicircle, where he placed the rock down. Returning to his spot, he asked, “How’s that?”

His smile faded as Mister Chenga responded, “I meant without touching it.” He rolled over onto his feet, returned the rock to its original position, and calmly sat back down.

Oh really? This I have to see.

“That’s going to be more difficult,” Blake said.

I reached over to my bag and pulled out a notebook.

Mister Chenga shook his head. “Or anything that is touching your hand, such as a notebook, while also touching the rock.”

Ah well, worth a try.

I returned the notebook to my bag and looked at the others, some appearing perplexed, others thoughtful. Max propped his head onto a hand and resembled a Greek statue.

This has to be some sort of game. Blake said it was a test for thinking outside the box. That means no assumptions, no preconceived boundaries.

Move the rock without touching it.

Move the rock …

Was it a game of words?

Maybe it was about emergent beings.

“Julia?” I whispered.

“Yes, Doug?”

“Do what I tell you, okay?”

Her poignant green eyes fluttered. She peered at me, a slight smile slowly bending her lips, which appeared naturally highlighted with a red fullness. “Okay, Doug.”

In a louder voice, I said, “Julia, stand up.”

She stood.

“Walk over to the rock, pick it up, and move it across the room.”

“Yes, Doug.”

She did as instructed and stood outside the semicircle, rock in hand, looking at Mister Chenga questioningly.

“Very good,” Mister Chenga said. “Return to your seat.”

Julia obeyed, tossing the rock back into the middle on her way.

Mister Chenga stood. He towered over the group. “This is your first lesson. We will be learning to harness sources of power of which you are unaware. It is not will power, although it fuels your will and strengthens it. You must always be conscious of this first lesson.” He wagged his finger at us, emphasizing the point.

“Excuse me,” Blake interrupted. “But what exactly was the lesson? I don’t get it.”

Mister Chenga shrugged as though capable of disseminating only so much information at a time. “The lesson is, although you can control your body and other emergent beings, you cannot move rocks with your thoughts.”

“You’re kidding me,” Blake said. “That’s all?”

“Do you think this is a trivial matter?”

Blake put his hands to his head as though trying to prevent it from exploding, then ran his fingers through his hair. “Well, everyone knows you can’t move rocks with your thoughts. Most people anyway.”

“And have you ever tried?”

Blake shrugged. “Sure. Actually, just now. But who hasn’t at some point? Everyone’s seen telekinesis in genre retro vids and probably tried it just for fun.”

“And what did you attempt after watching the genre retro vid? Was it a levitation attempt?”

“I tried making a ball roll across the floor. As I said, it didn’t work.”

“But you half-expected the ball to roll, didn’t you?”

Blake hesitated. “I wouldn’t say expected necessarily. More like wanted.”

“You anticipated the ball rolling,” Mister Chenga said.

“Part of me, I suppose.”

“That’s your ego part.” Mister Chenga walked over in front of Blake. “Sit down.”

Blake sat.

Mister Chenga paced back and forth in the sand, his hands locked behind his back. “As we train, your bodies will reach excellent physical condition. This’ll make you feel strong. And you will be. You’ll also learn how to marshal forces of nature.”

“Like wind?” Julia asked.

“No. More like the power of the mind.” Mister Chenga paused. “Figuring out what you want gets you more than halfway to the solution, but if your solution involves wanting a rock to move by way of thought alone, you’ll fail.”

He continued pacing.

“Let me get this straight,” I said. “Our first lesson is that we have no power to move rocks with our thoughts?”

“Precisely,” Mister Chenga said. “But you do have power to control the not-rock things in our universe. And you were the one who illustrated that point in our first lesson, Doug Pettit.”

“Living things,” I mumbled.

Emergent beings,” Mister Chenga responded. “Emergent beings, humans in particular.”

“Are you implying we can control others with our thoughts?” I asked.

“As you showed us, it’s indeed possible.”

“I simply asked her. She complied. I didn’t force her to do anything.”

Mister Chenga stopped and stood hands on hips. “Don’t get ahead of yourself.”

“I don’t think I am,” I told him. “Julia moved the rock.”

The Polynesian’s chest seemed to double in size as he drew in a slow, deep breath. He let it out equally slowly as though exercising an anger management skill. “My point is this. If you become aware of certain forces at your disposal and become adept at harnessing those forces, remember that you can use only those forces on emergent beings, most notably your self, and your body. But you can’t move rocks. It could become an illusion of your ego.”

Blake leaned toward bounty hunter Kelly and whispered, “I bet you could move my rocks without touching them.” He turned away before she could respond.

Sheesh.

“Fine,” I said. “Use power on emergent beings only, not rocks. I get it. Can we go home now?”

“Actually,” Mister Chenga said, “you summarized it very nicely, so yes, go to your new homes now.” He pointed at the doorway with the corridor and bulkheads beyond. “Take your belongings and find your bunks. They’re in the three rooms on the right. Double occupancy. There are lockers and desks, places to store your gear. Relax and wait for the dinner chime. The head is last room on the left. Don’t go beyond the head for now. Otherwise, move about freely.”

The six of us stood and gathered our gear in silence. Blake was first to go through, having already decided that if there was a position of team leader, he’d be first in line. Kelly Cook followed close behind.

“Tomorrow,” Mister Chenga added cheerfully, “we start with a five‑K cross‑country ski trip followed by breakfast and your next lesson.”

I followed close behind the Russian skater. “Julia, you seem pleasant enough. I don’t suppose you’d care to bunk together?”

She smiled, shifted her feet so that she was walking sideways, and slugged me in the shoulder. “Nyet—but nice try!”

Wincing, I rubbed what I was sure would be a bruise in the morning.

“I’ll bunk with you,” Max said, stepping to my side. “If you don’t mind.”

“Sure,” I told him. Max seemed like the quiet type, someone who liked sitting back and reading sensor data all day. That was his thing. Which was fine with me. I had a thing, too. It was called leave me alone and maybe we can get through this without too much grief.

We stepped toward the doorway, where Mister Chenga stood with arms crossed.

As I neared the door, Mister Chenga grabbed my arm and pulled me aside. “Just so we’re clear,” he said, “I’ll try not to be biased, but I don’t think you belong here. In my opinion, your presence jeopardizes the chance of others passing the course.”

“And why would you think that?” I asked, thinking, good question!

“It’s been my experience that people with hidden agendas cause others to stumble.”

“Mine isn’t hidden. I told you mine. And besides, in your experience, you’ve never come across me, so I’d say your education has been sadly lacking when it comes to knowing what I’m capable of.”

“I’ve seen your application. You’re as capable as anyone here, but what have you achieved with your life?”

“Well, I almost got married once.”

At first, I thought his insides were going to burst right through his skin. His dark skin actually lightened, becoming flushed, his blood pressure skyrocketing. Then he laughed. “At least you’re funny. Style points count here.”

“So we’re good?” I asked.

The Polynesian nodded. “I wish you good luck.”

“It’s been my experience that luck has very little to do with anything.” I turned and stepped through the doorway, seeing Max waving at me from the second room on the right, thinking I heard Mister Chenga snicker and say, “Sadly lacking …

About the Author

doug-hewitt

D.A. Hewitt is an award-winning author of four novels and over a hundred short stories. One novel was awarded a gold medal from the Independent Publishers Book Awards for best regional fiction. He attributes his success to hard work, honing a skill and providing an outlet for his passion for writing.

Born in Michigan, he lived for 25 years in North Carolina before returning to live in his home state. In addition to enjoying sky diving and mountain climbing, he is a proud veteran of the US Marine Corps and has earned a degree in mathematics.

Mr. Hewitt admits to a fascination with the work of Carl Jung and of the Gnostic religion. He’d always thought intertwining these topics in a science fiction novel was a stretch, but one day the storyline of Dominion came to him. He wrote the novel in a stream of consciousness. “It makes sense, tapping into the collective unconscious,” Mr. Hewitt says, “very much like Carl Jung might have predicted.”

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Sword and Sorcery Series Book Blast

 

The three volume set of Fantasy/Horror Author Dylan Doose’s SWORD AND SORCERY SERIES is available now! You can find out about all three books below!

 

Title: FIRE AND SWORD
Author: Dylan Doose
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 332
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Condemned to hang for their crimes, they’ll march instead to perish as heroes, or live as free men.
A broken nation in need of a savior – ravaged by plague, decimated by dark magic, infiltrated by a foreign evil seeking to dominate from within. Three will rise to save the beleaguered land. But will they be enough?
A fantasy adventure for fans of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and Scott Lynch!
Three men condemned to die: Aldous Weaver, a heretic monk turned sorcerer, imprisoned for accidentally incinerating the leader of his order. Kendrick the Cold, an infamous crusader turned fugitive, is a villain who knows he can never be a hero. Theron Ward, an aristocrat with a penchant for slaughtering monsters, and a legend in his own mind.
When the kingdom of Brynth is threatened by a far greater evil, the unlikely trio must make a choice — seek to escape this land that cries for their execution, or find the true heroes within themselves. And then, armed with fire and sword, march together against the forces of darkness. But can three such disparate warriors ever prevail?
 **Fire and Sword received an Honorable Mention from Library Journal 2016 and a Shelf Unbound Magazine Notable 100 for 2015**
Don’t miss the dark fantasy that reviewers are calling ‘gritty, fast-paced and compelling’—get your copy of Fire and Sword today!

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About the Book:
Title:
CATACOMBS OF TIME
Author: Dylan Doose
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 59
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
A fantasy adventure for fans of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and Scott Lynch!
In a world where the Rata Plaga and ghouls feast on the dead, doctor Gaige De’Brouillard believes science, not magic, conquers all. 
Even death is just an equation to be solved. 
When De’Brouillard is called upon by the Lord Regent to cure a curse and save one of the damned, he must battle for his career, his faith in science, and even his life. In the darkest slums and deepest catacombs, the doctor finds himself staring death in the eye with no scientific solution at hand. Has the doctor finally come across a question
that science cannot answer, and will he pay with his life?
Don’t miss the dark fantasy that reviewers are calling ‘visceral,’ ‘fantastic,’ and ‘intriguing’—get your
copy of Catacombs of Time today!

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About the Book:
Title:THE PYRES
Author: Dylan Doose
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 268
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Once again, three unlikely heroes must band together in a fiery conflict between gods and demons.
A country ravaged by civil war, now threatened with evil unleashed by rivers of blood. Three must rise again to save the beleaguered land and thwart a dark prophecy.
A fantasy adventure for fans of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and Scott Lynch!
Theron Ward, Aldous Weaver and Kendrick the Cold must band together and fight again. This time, they are caught in the timeless clash of gods and demons, and led by the dark prophecy of dreams.
A ruthless warlord, the Dog Eater, rises out of the rivers of blood from civil war. As friend and foe reach out from futures past, the three will see a city of white stone turn black with ash… and the only way forward is through the fire. One thing is certain, none of them will ever be the same. And one will be transformed in ways he never dreamed. Dare the three depend on the blood ties of the past to carry them through this terrible night?
Don’t miss the next thrilling installment in the dark fantasy that reviewers are calling ‘gritty, fast-paced and compelling’—get your copy of The Pyres today!

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Book Excerpt from FIRE AND SWORD:

The thing left a trail of thick black blood and green pus. More a stream than a trail, if Theron Ward, hunter of monsters, wanted to be precise. It was wounded and wounded horribly, but not dead.
Grimmshire was not the only town ruined by the plague. As far as Theron knew, the whole country had a piece of it. The rats came with those terrible black boils. Rats larger than dogs. In the beginning, they came in swarms. Now they appeared alone or in small roving packs, as if a once powerful tether that bound the group had been weakened.
Four years ago, they had come and spewed their filth into the town. Two days was all it had taken until half the town was crawling and squealing with the rats, puking up pus and bursting black boils. The other half of the town became the swarm’s feast.
Those who didn’t turn simply couldn’t. The priests said that only the sinners turned, that the pious were protected from the plague. Theron doubted that, for he was not a pious man and he knew a thing or two about sin—sins of the flesh mostly—and he had been exposed to enough plague to wipe out a city.
Yet he had not turned.
Theron suspected something more sinister than nature, or the work of gods and devils to be the villainy incarnate that had unleashed such wickedness upon the land. He suspected something more human, or slightly more than human. Unpopular opinion, but his opinion nonetheless.
It was midday, but it was dark in the ruined town. The clouds shrouded the sun, gray and threatening, but not a drop of rain. The once green pastures were yellow as far as the eye could see. Once this had been a bustling, happy little town. Now there were just the colors of pus and piss and ash all around, beneath those
suffocating gray clouds.
There came a rustling sound from the chapel, the one building in the town not entirely burned to the ground. It had been painted white when it was built, and painted black with soot and ash when death had come to its town. The stained glass windows were shattered, shards of the vibrant panes scattered round in the dirt and the yellow grass.
Theron burst through the door. His skin crawled at the sight of the wounded thing within the chapel; they always made his skin crawl, though he had killed over a hundred. He could kill over a thousand and still his skin
would crawl.
Theron was a beast hunter, had been for nearly a decade, but the rats had always disturbed him the most, more than any creature or demon.
What made the things so terrible was not the giant, rotting buckteeth that burst from the mouth. It was not the boils or the tufts of matted fur. Not the long tail or the brutish muscles, not the naked, sagging female breasts or the male parts dangling, filthy and crusted.
It was the eyes, for the eyes remained entirely human. And so, Theron was certain that a human being was still left in there, with no control over what it had become and begging for its torment to end.
This one had been a woman once, perhaps a mother, a lover, a sister, a daughter. For a dreadful moment he pictured his own sister taking the form of the wretched thing before him.
About the Author:

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Writer. Sculptor. Bad fitness advice. In between writing books, award winning fantasy author Dylan Doose fills his not-so-busy schedule with martial arts, mountain biking, paddle surfing, weight lifting, and of course HBO, PS4 and increasing the size of his beloved personal library. Dylan’s Fire and Sword received an honorable mention from Library Journal in 2016 and was a Shelf Unbound Notable 100 for 2015.

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First Chapter Reveal: I, Angus by Mike Hartner

i-angus

Title: I, Angus
Author: Mike Hartner
Publisher: Eternity 4 Popsicle Publishing
Pages: 260
Genre: Historical Fiction

During a time of civil strife and purging the North has lost more men to Wars then it ever did to Nature.

Angus has grown up learning that his life is better off with only him and a family. But is that really in the Grand Plan.

The North needs someone to build community.

But first, Angus needs to be forged… beaten, shaped, bolded and trained.

Watch as Angus hits both lows and highs across the lands of England, Scotland and France, before meeting a challenge of new land.

For More Information

Chapter One

It is a few days before my fifteenth birthday, and I have been scrubbing the castle floors all morning. I stand and the wind blows hard in my face, moving my reddish-orange hair from in front of my hazel eyes as I stretch my 5-foot 7-inch frame and look out the window.

The sky is dark and gloomy, but I can’t smell the rain yet, so I know a long time will pass before it pours down on our shire in North Scotland. In the far distance, I observe something moving toward our castle. It’s not long before I recognize my da’s charger. I can see others giving chase, although they’re quite a ways back. I run to open the gate and lower the drawbridge. I yell for my sister Janet to help me, because cranking it upright in a hurry is no small chore for one person.

The drawbridge has just been lowered when the hooves of Da’s horse, Spirit, come galloping across it. My sis does her part, and we quickly raise the bridge and race to the stallion and its rider. We arrive to hear the sound of arrows hitting the drawbridge and men yelling imprecations.

The heavily lathered stallion stands impatiently. On the horse’s back is its owner, Sir Donald Mackenzie, my da’. He is doubled forward, holding on to the mane, with an arrow in his upper left shoulder and another sticking out from his right calf. He wears a blue bonnet, along with a plaid kilt depicting our family’s lineage. A true archer, Da’s bow dangles on his back, diagonally between his shoulders.

The men on horseback, of which there are four, think better of trying to ford our moat, and they ride off. Lucky for us they don’t know that at that moment we are alone in the castle. Sis and I remove Da’ from the horse, and supporting our father between us we hurry him to his bed, where she begins ministering to his wounds.

I wonder what has caused this terrible event? My father had left several days ago with my much younger sister, Alice, to take her to a neighboring laird who had offered to have her schooled. I had watched my da’ the night before give Alice a family heirloom. It wasn’t much, but it was a locket that his great-grandmother had passed down to my grandmother who had passed it down to my mother, who was no longer with us. I remember Da’s telling us once that the tiny case had been given to our family on the occasion of an aunt’s marriage into the Clan MacDonald. I’d seen the engraving it held: two shields together, with their crests, one on the front, one on the back. And I recall Alice’s telling him, as he fastened it to her neck, that she’d forever wear it proudly.

I’d learned, however, not to believe much of what Alice said of late, as she was always coming up with whatever she thought would gain her purchase. But Alice was the oldest daughter—now eleven while Janet, who is every bit as tall as her and twice as strong, is but nine—so the keepsake rightfully should go to her.

Da’ was onto her though, and I think he’d worked out something with Laird MacLaren to see that she learned manners and honor as much as anything. Aye, but I also thought it might do her good to get set down a peg, as the MacLarens were wealthy landowners and not to be trifled with. It crossed my mind as well that Da’ hoped she might find a man of some stature someday who’d marry her, which would solve all the problems with Alice’s odd ways, as she never seemed happy with what Da’ provided for her. No matter, she would be schooled, and if nothing else she’d see other girls her age and how they acted. She would come back a better person—if she chose to return at all, which I highly doubted.

Da’s ride should have been a day out and a day back, with a day in-between to enjoy the hospitality of the laird. You see, this is the North of Scotland, and all of our families know each other, and no one just comes and goes, even if they are not related.

My da’ is hurt bad, and even with Janet and me by his side, the conditions are grim, as there is only so much we can do. I bring him food when sis has it ready, but I take it away when it isn’t touched four hours later. All he can do is let out an occasional groan

About the Author

mike-hartner

Mike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He’s traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.

Mike’s latest book is I, Angus (The Eternity Series Book 4).

For More Information

Journey Beyond the Trauma Book Blast

Journey Beyond the Trauma book blast banner

We’re happy to be hosting Dr. J. Denee and her JOURNEY BEYOND THE TRAUMA Book Blast today!

Journey Beyond the Trauma

Title: Journey Beyond the Trauma: Simple Practices of Resilence for Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Author: Dr. J. Denee
Pages: 99
Genre: Self-Help

Journey Beyond the Trauma: Simple Practices of Resilience for Survivors of Sexual Abuse goes right to the heart of the issues related to abuse. It shares the impacts of abuse and offers simple, yet, practical strategies and information to help survivors reclaim and restore their lives. Dr. J. Denee’ guides readers through a 30-day journey to jumpstart their innate resilience. Journey Beyond the Trauma helps survivors to:

• Take responsibility for your healing and your life

• Transform into your authentic self

• Identify and manage triggers

• Turn emotional pain into progression

• Develop self-acceptance and reclaim self-worth

• Embrace resilience as a way of life

For More Information

  • Journey Beyond the Trauma is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

About the Author

Dr. J. Denee

Juanita D. Ashby-Bey, PhD, known as Dr. J. Denee’, is a sexual abuse speaker, author, and resilience expert who specializes in helping women survivors of sexual abuse to rebuild their lives. A survivor of sexual abuse herself, Dr. J. Denee’ has been dedicated to the prevention, intervention, and recovery of sexual abuse issues and other traumas for the past 10 years. She received her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a Master’s Degree from JohnsHopkinsUniversity.

After coming to an understanding of the extent to which the sexual abuse and trauma she suffered as a child had profoundly affected his life, Dr. J. Denee’ traveled her own personal road of recovery and resilience, and made a firm decision to help build awareness about sexual abuse and to empower and support other sexual abuse survivors and the professionals who engage with survivors along the path to recovery.

As an educator, Dr. J. Denee’ spent many years researching and applying intervention strategies to help people transform themselves and discovery new possibilities. Leveraging her 15 years of experience as an educator at the collegiate and K-12 school levels in the capacities of administration, accreditation, evaluator, professor and teacher, Dr. J. Denee’s approach includes practical and research-based intervention strategies that are designed to produce results that guide women to more loving relationships with themselves and others. She helps women to tackle feelings of powerlessness by finding their voice, build emotional muscle to manage anger and rage, rebuild and establish healthy relationships rather than sabotaging them, and to learn how to effectively establish, respect, and protect personal boundaries for themselves.

Dr. J. Denee’ is an acclaimed speaker who is available to conducts seminars, workshops, keynote addresses, and panel discussions. She empowers her audience to tap into their internal ability to persevere, recreate themselves, express their individuality, and welcome and manage life’s simple and complex challenges successfully. With an interactive and inspirational delivery, Dr. J. Denee’ provides her audience with an effective toolkit of strategies that help women survivors of sexual abuse transform their lives and create authentic happiness, joy, and progress.

“Beyond the Trauma… Living Triumphantly” is the ultimate goal that Dr. J. Denee’ desires for all survivors. Dr. J. Denee’s upcoming, inaugural book, Beyond The Trauma – Simple Practices of Resilience for Survivors of Sexual Abuse is available for pre-sales and will be released in September 2015.

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Character Interview: Annabel Taylor from Jane Jordan’s Dark Romance, The Beekeeper’s Daughter

character interviews logoWe’re thrilled to have here today Annabel Taylor from Jane Jordan’s new Dark Romance, The Beekeeper’s Daughter.  Annabel is an eighteen-year-old Bee Charmer living on Exmoor in the South West of England.

It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so much for this interview, Annabel.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

A.T.:  I feel that Jane Jordan completely understood my character and the Victorian Exmoor I grew up on, which led to the complex relationships that developed in my life.  She understood the darkness in me and from where it came. When Jane Jordan started my story I was a child, she captured the essence of what it was to live, go to school and grow up in this time period, being surrounded by the wildness and landscape of old Exmoor.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

A.T.:  Yes, she understood my personality, just how headstrong I could be, and fearless when faced with adversity.  I have never given much thought to rules, but Jane Jordan delved deeper into my psyche to find that I have a strong moral sense of what is right and wrong.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

A.T.:  Confidence.

Worse trait?

A.T.: Reckless

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

A.T.:  Since I have never seen a television or a movie, I will have to defer to the author, Jane Jordan.

J.J.:  The American Actress, Grace Holley, captures Annabel’s stunning green eyes and long red hair, also being very beautiful, she would be a perfect choice.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

A.T.:  I have two, Jevan and Alex, but it’s complicated.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

A.T.:  When I married Alex, I knew Jevan would be furious when he found out, and my life would be in danger.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

A.T.:  Cerberus Saltonstall.  Because he has been driven insane by the legacy, and along the way lost his moral compass.  He is ambitious.  He is willing to sacrifice anyone that gets in his way.  He is powerful, but in a way he is lost, dabbling in dark magic.  So blinkered by his belief, he does not fully understand the devastating consequence of his actions.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

A.T.:  For me the ending is bittersweet, the character that is supremely evil is destroyed, but so is a character that, all along, was merely a pawn in someone else’s ambitious plan. I did not realize that at the time. Both these characters caused me great psychological suffering. However, I do end up with the right person and a future that promises to be happy.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

A.T.:  Both myself and the people I loved most went through so much in The Beekeeper’s Daughter, now, I could not bear to lose the one person that I hold most dear in this world.

Thank you for this interview, Annabel Taylor.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

A.T.:  As far as I know Jane Jordan does not intend to write another novel with my character, she is too busy finishing up a different story.  Of course, nothing is set in stone.

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cover-artABOUT THE BOOK

Title:  The Beekeeper’s Daughter

Genre: Thriller

Author: Jane Jordan

Websitejanejordannovelist.com 

PublisherBlack Opal Books

Find out more on Amazon and B&N

Beekeeper’s daughter Annabel Taylor grows up wild and carefree on the moors of England in the late 1860s. A child of nature and grace with an unusual ability to charm bees, Annabel follows in the footstep of her mother Lilith, a beautiful witch.  With her closest friend and soulmate Jevan Wenham by her side, Annabel’s life is a life filled with wonder and curiosity. But Jevan, the son of a blacksmith, lives his life on the verge of destruction, and his devotion to Annabel probes the boundaries between brutality and deep desire, passion and pleasure. When Jevan leaves Exmoor to pursue an education in London, Annabel’s world shatters.  Devastated without Jevan, Annabel is sure her life is ending. But everything changes when she crosses paths with Alexander Saltonstall. The heir to the Saltonstall legacy and son of Cerberus Saltonstall, the wealthy landowner of the foreboding Gothelstone Manor, Alex is arrogant and self-assured—and enamored of the outspoken Annabel.  Even though the two are socially worlds apart, that doesn’t stop Alex from asking, or rather demanding, Annabel’s hand in marriage.  But when Annabel refuses, she is forced into an impossible situation. To further complicate matters, Jevan is back—and so are those same desires, that same passion and intensity. But nothing is as it seems, and Annabel and Jevan are in grave danger.  At risk of being ensnared into the dark legacy of the Saltonstall family, Annabel faces the ultimate test.  Will her fledgling powers be enough to save those she loves most? Can she even save herself?

jane-jordan

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Jordan grew up in Essex, England and spent six years in the South West of England living on Exmoor.  A trained horticulturist, Jane worked and volunteered for Britain’s National Trust at Exmoor’s 1000-year-old Dunster Castle. The atmosphere, beautiful scenery, and ancient history of the place inspired Jane’s first novel, Ravens Deep, the debut release in her gothic vampire trilogy, which also included Blood & Ashes and A Memoir of Carl.  Jane Jordan lives in Southwest Florida.

Connect with Jane Jordan on the web:

 https://www.facebook.com/jane.jordan.71465

www.Janejordannovelist.com

http://www.janejordannovelist.com/home/blog/

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