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Interview with Russ Colchamiro, author of sci-fi comedy ‘Genius De Milo’

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Russ ColchamiroRuss Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure Crossline, the hilarious scifi backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, and the outrageous sequel, Genius de Milo, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in West Orange, NJ, with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ is now at work on the final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

His latest book is the science fiction novel, Genius De Milo.

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About the Book:

Genius De Milo 2Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:

The Earth has started fluxing in and out of existence, Theo’s twin girls are teleporting, and Jason can’t tell which version of his life is real.

All because of Milo, the Universe’s ultimate gremlin.

Joined by the mysterious Jamie — a down-and-out hotel clerk from Eternity — Jason and Theo reunite on a frantic, cross-country chase across America, praying they can retrieve that jar, circumvent Milo, and save the Earth from irrevocable disaster.

In author Russ Colchamiro’s uproarious sequel to Finders Keepers, he finally confirms what we’ve long suspected — that there’s no galactic Milo quite like a Genius de Milo.

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Russ Colchamiro.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Russ: I have several books in publication. My novels include the scifi backpacking comedies Finders Keepers and Genius de Milo -– think American Pie/Midnight Run meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — and the scifi mystery adventure, Crossline –- think Flash Gordon meets Escape from New York. I also contributed a short story to the Crazy 8 Press wizards and demons anthology Tales of the Crimson Keep.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

Russ: I was in deep negotiations with three mid- to large-size publishers, who all wanted Finders Keepers, but because of the economic downturn they all cut back on their production. They all said that if the economy had been better they would have signed me on the spot. So I wound up going with a small indie publisher, Three Finger Prints.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

Russ: Once we agreed, it took about six months to produce Finders Keepers and get it published and ready for sale.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

A: Finders Keepers debuted in October 2010, just two months after my twins were born. So the boring truth is that I didn’t do a whole of extra celebrating. I had my hands full, both figuratively and literally!

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

Russ: Let out a deep breath!

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Russ: I’m far more efficient. I have a much better sense of what the story needs and what it doesn’t need, so I’m not wasting nearly as much time with content that will never make the final version. I’m also getting much stronger at pacing, finding the right balance between pushing the plot forward but also taking enough time to develop the characters so that the readers are invested in the outcome.

I tend to write complex, interlocking character arcs and storylines into the overall narrative, so I’ve had to force myself to really focus on what’s most important, and then build around it.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

Russ: I published Finders Keepers in October 2010. I didn’t know it then, but it was right before e-books took over the market … and also in the middle of what turned out to be the biggest economic downturn in a century. Not what I’d call ideal timing! As I said above, I originally published (print and e-book) though a small indie publisher, Three Finger Prints, but despite the economy I had success right away.

I was able to land a national distribution contract (uncommon for a first-time author), with Finders Keepers carried by several Barnes & Noble stores throughout the country. Finders Keepers also received very supportive write-ups by Publishers Weekly, and I was one of only a half dozen authors globally to be invited by Wattpad to become one of their featured authors.

And then right after Finders Keepers debuted, e-books revolutionized the way readers digest novels, and for authors it’s been an entirely new and ever-changing world since then. I wound up reprinting Finders Keepers through Crazy 8 Press so that I now have my entire catalogue under one imprint, and control all of the rights, which is nice.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Russ: I take a certain pride in having brought my ideas to the page in a way that others can enjoy. Or ridicule! Ha. But seeing my books on a shelf, in someone’s home, or in a bookstore, or available online, let’s me know that I set my mind to accomplishing something that was important to me, and that I did it as well as I knew how to do — and was able to do — at the time that I did it.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Russ: Write because you love it, write for yourself, and write every day. And if you can make money at it … all the better.

On a more technical level, work with beta readers and editors who will give you actionable feedback that helps you improve the story you’re working on — and your craft — in very specific ways.

If you’re getting feedback like, “oh, that was good,” or “it wasn’t for me,” then they’re not really helping you.

Be highly selective, choosing people who will tell you what you actually need to hear, not what you want to hear. And keep your world of trusted ‘advisors’ on the small side. Feedback from too many people will distract and confuse you.

Being an author is a lot of work, so try to have as much as you can along the way, and unlike me, celebrate every step along the way. We writers need as much encouragement as we can get!

Character Interview: Arkas from K. Madill’s YA Fantasy Novel ‘The Stolen Herd’ – Win $25 Amazon Gift Card

We’re thrilled to be talking to Arkas from Green Forest, Deep Forest, The Silver City, Harshlands, Azure Caves, Elphinstone Mountains…hey, he has wings – he gets around.


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]Thank you so much for this interview, Arkas.  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?

Arkas: It was moderately accurate. She (the author) missed how utterly terrified Mandamus and Luco were when we first met. It was their own fault. They blundered into my territory, so I attacked them. It was written a little more comically than it actually was. Those two were scared out of their minds.  I thought that human, Luco, was going to cry and Mandamus may look like a big, tough horse but he was shaking in his hooves.  

What do you believe is your strongest trait? 

Arkas: My strength, agility, wingspan, and fighting skills.  Not to mention …I can breathe fire!

Worse trait?

Arkas: Well, I have been called short tempered. But I don’t see that as a bad thing at all.

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!)?

Arkas: Probably… Christian Bale. He was a pretty darn good Batman…and seeing as I’m an actual bat, I feel the transition would go smoothly.

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

Arkas: I must admit, I did get a little worried when we were attached by Aicha, that dirty slug of a water imp. I wasn’t sure I could take him by myself, he’s pretty quick.  Just in the nick of time, Gideon showed up and helped me out, thank goodness.

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?

Arkas: I definitely would not want to be Luco.  Alright, granted, for a human he’s not that bad…but he has only two legs and can’t fly.  He also doesn’t have the nerve to tell that naiad, Lethe, that he likes her. Even after he built her that glass room at the Gates to the Underworld!  He just hangs around mooning over her until Mandamus’ hoof heals, then we leave. Pathetic, if you ask me. I might have to do a little matchmaking there.

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

Arkas: Hey, Luco may be complaining because he’s afraid of getting eaten, but I’m full on ready to journey to the Azure Caves to see King Farzad and the rest of the Snowbreth tribe.  They’re supposedly man-eating monsters, but Gideon wouldn’t have sent us there if that was the case. I will tell you this though – if they do try anything, they’ll be sorry!

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

Arkas: If? I’m one of the three main characters of this story so she’d BETTER have me in it.  Hmm…words of wisdom….well, I would like to get back to Luco’s village for more cherry stars and fire whiskey though that’s more of a suggestion, I guess.

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

Arkas: Of course. Those two (Mandamus and Luco) couldn’t last a day without me. Why, you should see what those dunderheads got themselves into just last week. Only, you’ll have to wait for the 2nd book to find out – ha!

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Karai MadillA chronic “head in the cloudser” K. Madill lives in a rickety house on a well treed street in British Columbia, Canada.  When she’s not hanging out with her best equine friend in the woods she can be found trying to stay upright on her roller skates or mediating the affairs of her various furred and feathered friends that rule the aforementioned rickety house. 

K. Madill’s website: kmadill.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Madill/161159890706088

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaraiMadill1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20643483-the-stolen-herd

Pump Up Your Book and K. Madill are teaming up to give away

a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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  • By entering, you confirm you are 18 years of age or older.
  • Raffle runs from 12:00 AM EST on June 2 through 12:00 AM EST on June 28, 2014.
  • Winner will be selected randomly by Rafflecopter.
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Tactics, Trends, & Traits of the Enemy Book Blitz – Win $25 Amazon Gift Card

TTand T of the Enemy 3D coverTitle:  Tactics, Trends, & Traits of the Enemy
Author: Jermaine Gadson
Genre: Spiritual
Publisher:Crossbooks – Division of LifeWay(June 2014)
ISBN:  9781462736362—Hard Cover
ISBN: 9781462736355—Soft Cover
ISBN: 9781462736348—eBook

 

Pre-order at: http://www.amazon.com/PRE-ORDER-Tactics-Trends-Equipping-Believer/dp/1462736351/

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Tactics, Trends, & Traits of the Enemy by author Jermaine Gadson is a must have resource for believers who want to be well equipped to be victorious against the strategies of the devil. The devil is cunning and deceptive, and he will stop at nothing to keep God’s people from reaching their potential in Christ. In this book, Pastor Gadson discusses how the enemy uses temptation, seduction, fear, isolation, guilt, shame, and other such things in order to steal and destroy a person’s life. Satan works tirelessly through various means and mechanisms to keep sinners from hearing and being receptive of the Word of God, in order to prevent them from being saved. If you have family or friends who are not born-again, this resource will help you to identify schemes that the enemy may be using to keep your loved ones from being saved. This book is intended to equip the Body of Christ to wage a good warfare against the strategies of the enemy. It is not God’s will for His people to be taken advantage of by the enemy because of ignorance. This book exposes who the enemy is, what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will try to do in the future, as an enemy of God’s people. This book is written for the everyday believer to be able to understand and use. However, it is also a helpful tool for Christian leaders to be able to identify specific ways in which the enemy desires to attack them in order to steal their influence, kill their destiny, and destroy their reputation and ministries. In this regard, it is an encouragement to the Body of Christ to guard and protect their spiritual leaders.

Excerpt:

Know Your Enemy

Before engaging in battle of any kind, it is very important to be familiar with the opposition. The more you know about your enemy, the greater you will be equipped to fight against them and be victorious. Knowing your enemy includes being knowledgeable of their strengths, weaknesses, habits, origin, and the like. When you are knowledgeable about your adversary, you become empowered to develop a plan of action or strategy to adequately defend against their opposition, overcome their threats and defensive mechanisms, and ultimately defeat them.

Athletes and those who follow sports are familiar and acquainted with this principle. Coaches and players spend hours upon hours viewing video recordings of not only their own team, but of their upcoming opponents as well. They view recordings to evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses as revealed by previous games, and they do the same to identify strengths and weaknesses of the next team they have to face.

This principle is certainly pertinent in the area of the military as well. No military general, or top ranking official who has authority over military personnel will in their right mind authorize the use of military force without adequate information concerning the enemy to be attacked. Right decisions require right information. This is especially true if you want to come out victorious and on top.

Now that we can see the importance of this principle from a natural standpoint, it makes sense that this would also apply spiritually in relation to how we are to do battle with our spiritual enemy. As you read this book, I hope that you will be able to see the importance of this material in helping you towards this very end. The reason this book is so important is because the person reading it is like a ballplayer looking at tape of his or her opponent or a military general gathering intelligence on a terrorist organization.

When you know where your enemy came from, what your enemy has done in the past, and what your enemy is presently capable of, you are more readily prepared to wage a good warfare and defeat him in any present or future encounters you may have.

VIEW THE TRAILER AT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNfV81_SD0s

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Jermaine Gadson full photo

Jermaine Gadson is the Senior Pastor of Faith Ministries, Inc., a non-traditional church located in Birmingham, AL. Prior to starting Faith Ministries, he served as an associate minister, youth minister, and pastor for local churches and ministries in the greater Birmingham area.  While, growing up in the Baptist church, he gave his life to Christ at an early age, and is a third generation minister of the Gospel.

He holds a B.A. in Religion with a Concentration in Congregational Studies and a Minor in Classics from Samford University, and a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School of Samford University.  He is currently a Doctor of Ministry student at Beeson Divinity School.

Gadson enjoys reading, writing, sports, outdoors, movies, and spending time with his family. He is happily married to his wife Kristy and they have one beautiful daughter, Khloe.

Visit Pastor Gadson online at www.JermaineGadson.com.

Pump Up Your Book and Jermaine are teaming up to give 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 to receive each of the prizes
  • This giveaway begins May 19 and ends on May 31, 2014.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on June 2, 2014.
  • Winner has 72 hours to reply.

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Tactics, Trends, & Traits of the Enemy Book Blitz Schedule

 

May 19

 

Cheryl’s Christian Book Connection

Rebecca’s Writing Services

May 20

 

Inside BJ’s Head

Literarily Speaking

May 21

 

Lori’s Reading Corner

Between the Covers

May 22

 

Vic’s Media Room

As the Pages Turn

May 23

 

My Devotional Thoughts

Maureen’s Musings

May 26

 

The Book Rack

Beyond the Books

May 27

 

Read for Your Future

Little Shepherd

May 28

 

The Writer’s Life

May 29

 

The Book Connection

May 30

 

The Busy Mom’s Daily

CHARACTER INTERVIEW: LEAH FROM A SANDY GRAVE BY DONNA MCDINE

We’re thrilled to be talking to Leah from Donna McDine’s tween chapter book, A Sandy Grave. She is taking a quick break from enjoying the beach. It is a pleasure to have her with us A Sandy Grave covertoday at Beyond the Books!

BTB: Thank you so for this interview, Leah. 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?

Leah: My personality definitely flows from the pages and I enjoy how my creator portrays me as a curious individual.

BTB: What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Leah: I trust my gut instincts.

BTB: Worse trait?

Leah: I can exhaust others by asking too many questions.

BTB: 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!)?

Leah: Drew Barrymore

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

Leah: When the men began chasing us. I was scared what they would do to us if they caught us.

BTB: 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?

Leah: Either of the men that stole the whale’s teeth. They were both grimy and deceptive.

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

Leah: Relieved.

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

Leah: Portray me older in the next book, because I’m growing girl and want even more exciting adventures.

BTB: Thank you for this interview, Leah. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Leah: I hope so, but that’s up to my creator. Maybe if I keep yelling at her in her mind she will have to write about me again.

About the Book

The anticipation of summer vacation can put anyone in a great mood with the excitement of adventures to be had–especially at the beach. But what is a group of friends to do when they discover mysterious men poaching whale teeth at the beach?

About the Author:Donna McDine Headshot

Donna McDine is an award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books ~ The Golden Pathway.

Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna’s 2013 releases of Powder Monkey and Hockey Agony and the 2014 release of A Sandy Grave will be joined by an additional book to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, and Family Reading Partnership.

Visit Donna online at www.donnamcdine.com or her blog at www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com

 

Donna McDine is giving you a chance to win a $50 Barnes and Noble 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 to receive one $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • This giveaway begins March 3 and ends on April 25, 2014.
  • Winner will be contacted via email.

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Interview with Susan Louise Peterson, author of THE YES BOOK FOR TEENAGERS & THE NO BOOK FOR TEENAGERS

Susan PetersonSusan Louise Peterson is an author and school psychologist living in Las Vegas, NV. She has taken a twenty year journey working in the tough inner city schools of Las Vegas, Nevada as a teacher and later a school psychologist. Susan has worked with students from pre-kindergarten to high school levels. Working in a large inner city high school she noticed that many teenagers were dealing with communication issues related to their parents, teachers and other adults. Students were given limited information from adults when they asked questions and usually did not understand the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ type of responses they received from adults. In response, Susan Louise Peterson wrote two companion books to help teenagers with this communication dilemma. She is the author of the newly released books entitled THE YES BOOK FOR TEENAGERS and THE NO BOOK FOR TEENAGERS.

Susan is an award winning educator and has won several national awards for improving educational practice. She was named to the Practitioners Hall of Fame for Improvement of Educational Practice from NOVA University.

In addition, Susan is the author of the recently published book IS MY CHILD AUTISTIC OR DELAYED? (Vilnius Press-2013), as well as eight other books in the areas of education, research and child behavior.

You can visit her website at www.susanlouisepeterson.com.

Click here to enter the $25 Amazon Gift Card + Books Giveaway!

ABOUT THE YES BOOK FOR TEENAGERS

The Yes Book for TeenagersThe Yes Book for Teenagers was written to address the multiple meanings of ‘yes’ as teenagers often ask parents and adults for numerous requests. Susan Louise Peterson, a school psychologist has worked in the inner city high schools of Las Vegas with a large number of teenagers. She has seen the ‘quick and fast’ requests from teenagers. These requests when answered with a ‘yes’ response often need a little more explanation and detail. It is hoped this book will help teenagers understand the broader meaning of a simple ‘yes’ response.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON.

ABOUT THE NO BOOK FOR TEENAGERS

The No Book for TeenagersThe No Book for Teenagers seeks to help teenagers understand why adults (such as parents and teachers say ‘no’ to them. Teenagers literally have thousands’ of requests and these requests can cause major disagreements between teens and adults. Parents and teachers are often helping teenagers understand the ‘bigger picture’ and some of the challenges they may be facing now and in the future. The book is written by Susan Louise Peterson, a school psychologist who has worked with teens in the inner city schools of Las Vegas, Nevada. As Susan emphasizes in the book, the word ‘no’ can be connected to many things. She helps teens explore the various meanings connected with a ‘no’ response.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON.

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Susan.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

The Yes Book for Teenagers and The No Book for Teenagers will be my tenth and eleventh books published. I have nine other books on a variety of human relations and education topics.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I have taken a traditional academic publishing approach to the first eight books, but I am now using a more independent publishing approach for the last three books. I have a greater interest in being involved in the direct publishing issues and promotion of the books than I have had with traditional academic publishing.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

Since I have been through the publishing process before I feel it moves at a much faster pace. I think I spend more time getting the foreword and comments for the book than I do writing the book. The delay is not with a contract, but rather in putting the final touches on the book.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

The first book published came after numerous rejection letters, but I really appreciated when an editor recognized and respected my work. He worked with me on seven other books and this was a really good feeling.

Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?

Actually, when my first book was published I knew nothing about promotion and just assumed the publisher would handle it all (I was totally wrong about that). I think they listed my book in an academic catalog and that was pretty much all of the promotion there was, so I learned I needed to be more involved in the promotion.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I think I have grown as a writer from seeing that it is more than getting a book published. The book has to help someone or say something that gets a person thinking about a change or a new way to look at something.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I love the publishing industry because it can change like any other business or field. New technology, new marketing approaches and new companies are popping up and changing the whole publishing field.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

The most rewarding thing about being a published author is the joy I have with self expression of my ideas through the written word. I cannot always express these things orally, but I am much more comfortable expressing them in written form.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

I hear many people say “I am going to write a book someday.” I just want them to know that writing the book is only the first step and that there is so much more to the publishing and promotion process of the book.

Lowell Christensen’s The One-Minute Zillionaire Book Blast today! Win $25 Amazon Gift Card!

The One-Minute Zillionaire banner

Pump Up Your Book and Lowell T. Christensen will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card during his The One-Minute Zillionaire Book Blast today! This promotion ends at midnight. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!

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The One-Minute ZillionaireABOUT THE ONE-MINUTE ZILLIONAIRE

Like any good success book, The One-Minute Zillionaire will get you so crazed with principles, keys, goals, affirmations, and profound and poetic platitudes that you’ll want to dash to Alaska to search for gold and taunt grizzly bears. Christensen delivers a very funny yet sensible message with help from a wide cast of characters, including Shakespeare, Freud, Pamela Anderson, Dante, Greek goddesses, Chewbacca, Charles Manson, Saint Peter, and Pancho Villa. He pondered the powerful achievement techniques and heat-resistant feet of Anthony Robbins, the paradigms of Stephen R. Covey, the excellence of Thomas Peters, the mind power of Napoleon Hill, the brazen squint of Donald Trump, and the fudge-making ability of Martha Stewart. He consequently discovered the number one key to success, “The best way to achieve success is to write a success book.”

Christensen covers financial success but adds advice on wooing, weight loss, time management, travel, and other topics with the goal in mind of making the book thicker. Go to TheOneMinuteZillionaire.com for national and international reviews, excerpts, free bonus offers, and articles.

Praise for The One-Minute Zillionaire:

“The author has a light touch and the ability to laugh at himself and his own ideas. Without a doubt, Christensen is funny.”

— Foreword Reviews

“Lowell Christensen is the author of “The One-Minute Zillionaire,” a new humor book about success. In a press release, Christensen writes that he hopes his advice about “how success requires quite a bit of formal and practical education, hard work, and falling on your face a few times” will resonate with readers.”

Albuquerque Journal

Purchase your copy:

AMAZON| BARNES & NOBLE

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ABOUT LOWELL CHRISTENSEN

Lowell T. ChistensenLowell T. Christensen has kept himself busily occupied as a writer, engineer, rocket scientist, musician, backhoe operator, outdoorsman, chef, rancher, and international traveler. His previous books include Coping with Texas and Other Staggering Feets and Beginning Farming and What Makes a Sheep Tick, and he has written magazine articles that feature presidential elections through the theme of Shakespearean plays.

Christensen also writes articles for his local newspaper about public education, cheesy television shows, Scout camp misadventures, and the county library’s resemblance to a dead rhinoceros. With a degree in chemical engineering, he has worked for DuPont and the University of California.

His latest book is The One-Minute Zillionaire: Achieve Wealth, Fame, and Success in an Instant, Give or Take a Hundred Years.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK

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Doing good deeds is what modern day fairytale ‘Princess April Morning-Glory’ by Letitia Fairbanks is all about

What kind of a world would you create, if you had to do three good deeds to make it home again? The answer to that crucial question, as given by the title Princess April Morning-Glory long bannercharacter in Letitia Fairbanks’s charming fairy tale, PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY, tells a unique and captivating story. Although she lives a fabled life in a paradise called Fairyland, the princess makes a fateful decision to step outside of her cloistered existence to face the outside world and all of its temptations. Once outside The Enchanted Forest, the princess longs to return home, but she is told by a benevolent wizard that she must first do three good deeds. She follows his sage advice and starts her journey home, performing three good deeds, peerless in the annals of fairy tales. But along the way, Princess April is tempted by the wicked Fairy Misery with the promise of riches and fabulous fairy wings if she remains in the outside world and does Misery’s bidding. Which life will Princess April choose?

For its writing, beautiful illustrations, and moral weight, PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY — written and illustrated by Letitia Fairbanks over seven decades ago — can be compared to such classics as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s THE LITTLE PRINCE and Walt Disney’s classic film FANTASIA.

 

PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY also comes with a fascinating history. Letitia Fairbanks was the niece of the fabled silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford. When she was a little girl, Letitia’s family moved to Hollywood from Utah after Douglas Fairbanks

appointed his brother Robert, Letitia’s father, to be the production manager of United Artists, the film company formed by Fairbanks, Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and D. W. Griffith.

Letitia, who was born in 1913, spent much of her childhood through early adulthood at Pickfair, the legendary estate built by Fairbanks and Pickford, where she was surrounded by the luminaries of the time. When she started writing and illustrating PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY in her twenties as a homage to her recently-deceased uncle, Letitia derived inspiration for the illustrations from then-current Hollywood blockbuster films, as well as deriving her portraiture from a composite of that era’s celluloid legends, along with immediate family members including her mother, father and sister, Lucile. The book was first copyrighted in 1941 and has not seen the light of day since.

Despite the book’s glamorous provenance, it’s the story, detailed imagery, and moral framework of PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY that make it special, says Kelley Smoot Garrett, Letitia’s stepdaughter and the successor trustee of the Ella Letitia Fairbanks Smoot Family Trust. Kelley, born in Texas and raised in New York City, holds a bachelor of science in geological sciences from the University of Texas at Austin and worked as a consulting petroleum geologist from 1983-1995. She currently works in Austin as a business analyst/project manager for hi-tech companies.

Following the painstaking digital restoration of the original artwork by Kelley’s husband, Danny Garrett, who, like Letitia, is an artist, Kelley has been collaborating with Amanda Millner-Fairbanks, the granddaughter of Letitia Fairbanks and Kelley’s step-niece, to publish the long-lost manuscript. Amanda is a graduate of Smith College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Boston Globe, Newsweek, and the Huffington Post.

PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY’S theme of, “you create your own destiny from the three good deeds you choose to do,” Kelley says, gives the book the potential to become a modern classic for all ages.

About The Author, Letitia Fairbanks

Letitia Fairbanks was the niece of the fabled silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford. Born in 1913, Letitia spent much of her childhood and early adulthood at Pickfair, the legendary estate built by Fairbanks and Pickford. When she started writing and illustrating PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY, in her twenties, as a homage to her recently-deceased uncle, Letitia used an ensemble of current celluloid legends as inspirations for her illustrations. The book was first copyrighted in 1941 and has not seen the light of day since.

In honor of Letitia, Kelley Smoot Garrett is sending Letitia Fairbanks’ children’s book, Princess April Morning-Glory on a virtual book tour February 4 – April 26 and is giving everyone a chance to win a free Kindle Fire HD!  If you would like to follow her tour or enter the giveaway, visit her tour page at Pump Up Your Book by clicking HERE.

Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion & publicity for authors.

Read a Chapter: Cry of Eagles by Stefan Vucak

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at Beyond the Books! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring Cry of Eagles by Stefan Vucak.  Enjoy!

Cry of EaglesIran’s nuclear capability represents a clear national threat to Israel. Although concerned, the United States and Europe are reluctant to increase sanctions. Frustrated that nothing is being done, Mossad decides to force the United States into action. A black ops team sabotages a refinery complex in Galveston and plants evidence that incriminates Iran, confident that an enraged America will retaliate. Congress and the public urge the U.S. president to bomb Iran, but the administration lacks direct evidence. With carriers positioned in the Gulf ready to strike, the world waits to see if the Middle East will explode into open conflict. With tension mounting, the FBI uncovers a shocking truth. It wasn’t Iran at all, but Israel! A government falls and America forces Israel to confront the Palestinian problem.

 

Chapter One

Tel Aviv

Present Day

“In defiance of recently imposed UN trade sanctions, President Hamadee Al Zerkhani announced yesterday that Iran would not bow to illegal international pressure to cease what he termed is Iran’s peaceful development of nuclear power, designed to promote an alternative energy source for his people. When asked why three weeks ago, another three hundred gas centrifuges were commissioned, technology not required for civilian-grade reactors, President Zerkhani stated that Iran wished to ensure an energy supply that would guarantee his country’s independence and continued economic development. The fact that Iran already enjoys significant reserves of gas and oil seems to have escaped him. The president added that any interference with his country’s legitimate exploitation of nuclear technology would incur the gravest consequences for the United States and Western economies in general.

“The weather forecast for Tel Aviv today -”

Namir Bethan casually stabbed one of the preset radio channel buttons and the car filled with the haunting strands of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony. He relished the second movement, its subtle complexity and nuances, easily overlooked in the seemingly simple melody. The density and texture of the composition filled his soul with contentment and satisfaction. The piece was one of his favorites. Noting the turnoff, he slowed and eased the black BMW into Harav Kook Street. Nondescript office buildings lined the street, some modern, showing their reflective black or copper windows, glittering bright in early morning sunshine. Others were more conservative, built out of traditional white and yellow sandstone. A relatively new suburb of Tel Aviv, Herzliya dared to experiment with alternative architectural styles.

Tall trees lined the broad sidewalk, casting dark shadows along the street. Early starters, briefcases and bags in tow, hurried along, sometimes turning to walk into one of the buildings. Mildly curious, he wondered what their day would be like; a distraction while his brain did the driving on automatic. A sparrow made a startled dash across the street, vanishing among the thick foliage of a tree.

As the car whispered down Shival Hekochavim Street, he could see the familiar loom of an eighteen-story building, the sidewalk protected by a three-meter stone wall. Namir brought the car to a stop in the double driveway, climbed out and slid his black passkey into the security pad slot. Closed-circuit cameras mounted on each side of the wall stared down at him with intimidating curiosity. The heavy steel gate slid back without a rattle. He gave an involuntary glance up the sheer facade of the gray building, now outlined against the rising sun. With spring in the air, the days were getting warmer and his thigh didn’t bother him as much. This early in the morning, the air was still crisp. He climbed into his car, slammed the door shut and drove through the courtyard.

“Welcome to the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations,” he muttered with wry amusement as he slowly made his way toward the underground parking entrance. Not openly advertised, those who wanted to know where Mossad was headquartered could find out easily enough. The dashboard clock read 7:30, and had read that for a while now, he noted ruefully. Since his wife’s death two years ago to a brain tumor, undetected until far too late to do anything about it, his comfortable two-bedroom Tel Aviv apartment held nothing to keep him there. Fatalistic, the loss and guilt had still hit him hard. He should have spent more time with her, valuing what he had. But as with such things, perspective came when one was powerless to undo what years of neglect had wrought. He made up for it now by burying himself in work. At least his country’s needs were not being neglected – a poor consolation nonetheless. It did nothing to fill the lonely echoes of his empty apartment.

Unconsciously, he swept his eyes over an array of cars already parked in the lot, low-grade officers not entitled to an underground parking spot. He slipped his key into the security portal and waited as the heavy doors rolled up. Still not fully open, he drove into the dark maw. The underground parking lot had four levels, but his executive position allowed him a spot on the ground level. He parked the car, switched off the headlights, stepped out and leaned back in to pick up a slim brown calf-leather briefcase from the passenger seat. The parking and brake lights flashed when he automatically set the security lock. Given where he worked the action caused him to smile. Pocketing the keys, he slowly walked toward the foyer entrance. He dragged out a biometric badge from his coat pocket and pressed it against the door sensor. Satisfied, his electronic master unlocked the door with a heavy click. Inside the spacious, cool foyer the security guard, sitting behind a curved reception station, looked up and nodded sternly.

“Morning, sir,” he said with formal dignity.

“Shalom, Jaron,” Namir replied heavily as he did each morning, walking slowly toward the middle of three entrance portals, his footsteps echoing against the marble floor. He passed the badge over the sensor. The red-lit panel turned green and gave a sharp beep. He walked through, stopped before the polished steel of the left elevator that ran through the building’s core and pressed the dark access triangle. It turned soft amber. A few seconds later came a blunt chime and the double doors opened. There wasn’t much of a demand this time of day. It took a moment for the elevator to surge to the seventeenth floor – his department. Light gray carpet muffled his footsteps as he made his way between glass-fronted offices, most of them with their privacy curtains drawn. He could not hear anyone else on the floor.

When he hobbled to the left corner office, he passed his badge against the lock and the latch gave a little click. He opened the door and closed it softly behind him. Heavy beige carpet covered the rectangular room floor. A wide, brown executive desk stood tucked against the far corner; bare, except for a standard keyboard, optical mouse, an 18” rectangular LCD screen and a multi-function phone terminal. A round glass coffee table filled the empty space in the center, surrounded by four soft easy chairs. A floor-to-ceiling bookshelf occupied one wall, cluttered with bound volumes and paperbacks, magazines and various periodicals. The windowpanes were standard double-glass, designed to defeat vibration and laser voice intercept devices.

Namir placed the briefcase on the desk and sat down. He clicked open the two side latches, lifted out a slim blue folder, closed the briefcase and stood it against the desk drawers. He toggled the mouse and the screen lit up with the Mossad logo and motto. The desk did not mount a processor or workstation. His connection, like everyone else’s, was provided through a secure shielded cable to high-speed servers on the fourth floor. The other equipment in the room was a color printer and a document shredder that ripped up to twenty-four pages at a time into three- millimeter square flakes.

The airconditioning sighed softly from two grilles mounted in the false ceiling.

A sharp rap on the door interrupted the thick silence. It opened and he looked up. Holding a steaming mug of coffee, two sugars, a young woman, dressed in a severe gray business jacket and pants, dark hair cut short, strode in and placed the mug next to the closed folder.

“Shalom, Mr. Bethan,” she said primly and gave him a tight-lipped smile.

“Thanks, Mira,” he growled and reached for the cup. He gave an appreciative sniff and took a tentative sip. Black, hot and sweet, the way he liked it. His doctor had told him to cut down on his sugar intake, but damn it, there were limits.

“Anything I should know?” he demanded, eyeing her over the rim of his cup.

She frowned and her pleasantly round face clouded. Pencil-thin black eyebrows added to her severe expression, highlighting her large brown eyes. A hint of red lipstick gloss softened her otherwise stern poise.

“Nothing that demands your immediate attention, sir. Unless you consider Iran’s latest bout of histrionics an issue,” she allowed with a trace of wry amusement and waited, knowing full well her boss was spending time in idle conversation. He knew everything of importance that went on round the world without having to be reminded. But it was a ritual they played out every morning and she didn’t mind.

“I do, but that’s an ongoing headache.” Namir passed a gnarled hand through his receding shock of gray hair refusing to stay combed.

“Yes, sir.” She frowned and bit her lip. “I cannot understand why the United States doesn’t do something. And the UN is just as lame, fulminating and impotent. Somebody should bomb them!”

“I’ll suggest it to Director Doron Kameer, but it’s complicated,” he mused, largely agreeing with her. When the great powers did eventually reach an acceptable consensus, the original intent was so watered down the final UN resolution held little meaning or potency. He took another sip, placed the mug down with a soft tap and spent a moment studying his ruthless-looking assistant.

Recruited from Shin Beth, Israel’s internal security and counter-espionage sister service – inter-service poaching was rife, even though strictly frowned upon, but nevertheless a lively industry – the one-time Army captain’s feminine exterior masked a hard no-nonsense professional. At twenty-eight and one of his star case officers, she filled a vital function being his personal assistant. In his view, secretaries were a luxury and potential security risks. Namir indulged in neither. Capable, disciplined and dedicated, he intended to continue mentoring her, provided he himself lasted the distance. In his game it only took one unguarded step and his brother colleagues, jackals more likely, would be baying and snapping at his heels. Then again, he had a job to do and Mossad didn’t operate like the UN. To advance, she needed to round off her experience by working in other departments. He would hate to lose her.

Looking through her, thinking about things, he made up his mind and squared his shoulders, but was unable to suppress a flutter of unease in his stomach. The action he contemplated would be way over authorized limits. Sometimes though, such things were necessary. He wondered whether history would agree with him.

“When Matan Irian comes in, ask him to see me, will you?” he requested in dismissal.

“Of course, sir.”

As the door closed behind her, leaving a whiff of lavender in her wake, Namir cracked his knuckles, reached for the keyboard, logged in and tapped out his search parameters with quick, efficient strokes. A number of messages waited to be opened in his In Mail box, but he ignored them. The server immediately retrieved and displayed the document. It had no classification attached to it, Namir’s logon already providing the necessary access levels.

Sitting back, sipping his coffee, he quickly scanned the salient points outlined in the paper. He knew them off by heart, but the task helped him to think and reflect on what he contemplated. Written more than four years ago when Iran’s uranium enrichment program was already well advanced – it never would have, had vital gas centrifuge designs not been provided by Pakistan between 1987 and 1991 by Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, to be precise – the document outlined a remarkably prophetic dissertation. In his opinion, Israel should have acted as soon as Iran’s fledgling enrichment program was unearthed. However, the then Mossad Director, Ephraim Halevy, was foremost a politician and wary of adverse repercussions should an operation to disrupt Iran’s march toward a nuclear capability somehow backfire. Not that Namir could exactly blame the Director, but he missed the old days, like in 1981 when Israel bombed Osirak, sending Iraq’s nuclear ambitions into the Stone Age.

A wry smile of grim satisfaction lit his face at other successes as he recalled the assassination of Fathi Shaqaqi in 1995, founder of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, by two of his agents right in front of the Diplomat Hotel in Sliema, Malta. The scum deserved to die. But the single wet ops which gave him the most satisfaction was having Izz El-Deen Sobhi Sheikh Khalil, head of Hamas, blown sky high, car and all, in 2004 while the guerilla fighter was in Damascus.

He understood and appreciated that type of direct action. Today, murky diplomacy and conforming to delicate international sensibilities were the norm, while Hamas terrorists targeted Tel Aviv and Jerusalem’s citizens on buses and restaurants. Still, it was not as though Israel had not given them cause, he contemplated equitably. He would never say so aloud, but in his opinion the notorious wall building program, an attempt to fence off the occupied territories and stem the flow of suicide bombers, had been an asinine political decision, compounded by another equally asinine decision to exploit the moment and annex additional Palestinian land. The effort had failed abysmally and only served to harden international condemnation. It did nothing to placate illegal settlements, and tactically, did little to stop the bombings. Then again, how else could the Palestinians respond? Without a standing army to field in battle, terrorism remained the only weapon left to them. The old adage about a terrorist being a freedom fighter had a rather apt ring. Israel itself had used similar tactics against the British occupation after the Second World War. History was replete with lessons of failure, to the unheeding care of those who strove to repeat the mistakes.

Sometimes everything seemed so futile.

If he had his way, he would eliminate the politicians. That would solve everybody’s problems. Prime Minister Sharron Ibrahim had the capacity and will to act, but his Kadima Party coalition was hamstrung into inaction. Not that Labour or the minor parties such as Gil and Shas were any better. And Ibrahim’s often imperious and forceful attitude hadn’t helped to push through unpalatable policies. To hold power, successive governments had sacrificed their ability to formulate and execute initiatives by catering to extremist and radical single-issue coalition partners. Lately, Israel had changed governments like he changed socks, an ominous symptom of fragmented ideologies and loss of vision. In the long run, that led to internal disintegration. But knowing what to do and having the will to do it, whatever the cost in personal careers, are the hallmarks of good government everywhere. In his view, Israel seemed doomed to pursue a fatalistic course of internal appeasement, incapable of realizing that placating the ultra-orthodox elements in its ranks simply to hold onto power left no one room to reach a workable settlement. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on one’s point of view, the Palestinian National Authority with its hostile Hamas government fared even worse. Sometimes a lot could be said for the value of a dictatorial regime.

Personally, he echoed Shimon Peres’ sentiments that Israel has no real option of turning to the political sphere in order to obtain a compromise that would constitute a genuine breakthrough – no compromise could ever satisfy the Arabs.’ The inevitable consequence of that policy was the reinforcement of a concept that there could never be a political option on which Israel could base its security, which had given rise to a general psyche of interventionism by the Israeli Defense Force establishment in the political decision-making process. Since the military were perceived as the sole instrument capable of defending the country, any criticism or curtailment of its power was interpreted as a direct threat to national security. Namir admitted that lack of public debate on the automatic application of force as the sole mechanism to solve his country’s problems had managed to derail every peace initiative to date, even if Israel’s own religious extremists were willing to entertain the initiative – which they hadn’t. Growing militancy between Fatah and Hamas, and disintegration of the Palestinian National Authority might encourage the military to take matters into their own hands. That, of course, was but a single step from fascism, the worst of all possible outcomes.

Well, he might not be in a position to solve all his country’s problems, but staring at the screen, he had no qualms about jump-starting the process. Viewing the proposal, it had all the classic elements of a military deception: a specific objective, playing to the enemy’s preconceived assumptions, a clear method selection and simple execution. The exploitation component was missing, but in this case hardly relevant. The tricky bit was that Kameer also had access to the proposal and could conceivably connect the dots, a bridge to be crossed later. He pressed the print icon and the printer immediately began to hum as it spat out the report. He picked up the still warm pages, tapped them together against the desk and reached into his drawer for a stapler.

He was still reading when the phone went off.

“Yes?”

“Mr. Irian to see you, sir,” Mira announced.

“Send him in.” Namir placed the report on the desk, face down, as his tall visitor walked in, military bearing clear despite the tastefully cut dark gray suit, and closed the door behind him. It was nothing specific that marked his visitor, more a collection of small subtleties: clear penetrating eyes, aura of complete confidence, economical body movements, and that something that said ‘command presence’.

“Ah, Matan, take a seat,” he said warmly.

“Thanks.” Matan nodded, glanced at the coffee table and settled himself into the nearest chair, his legs stretched out before him.

Namir folded his hands and leaned forward. “How is Sarah these days? Still beautiful as ever?”

“And I’m still very much in love with her,” Matan declared, his voice crisp and determined.

“How about that! And Admina?”

“Growing up too fast.”

Namir chuckled. “She is going to break some hearts along the way.”

“As long as some slick city kid doesn’t break her heart.”

“She’s lucky to have you and Sarah looking out for her.”

“That’s a matter of opinion. Sometimes I just don’t understand her.”

“The same way she feels about you, I’m sure.”

“I don’t doubt it. Anyway, why don’t you come around some evening and straighten her out. She’d listen to you.”

Namir lifted his hands and laughed. “No thanks! I’m happy to leave that problem to you. I’ve had my time. But talking of problems, any further developments in tracking down that Hamas cell?”

Two weeks ago a twelve-year-old Gaza girl had walked into a Tel Aviv restaurant near Old Jaffa and blown herself up, taking eleven patrons and bystanders with her, and eighteen others injured, some seriously. Recovered from the debris were nails, nuts and roller bearings – a vicious combination to make a statement. The incident had caused an outcry and much breast-beating by everybody. The Collections Department suspected a single Hamas cell of orchestrating the attack, having carried out a similar atrocity a week earlier. That time, it was a fourteen-year-old boy. To brainwash children…

Matan stared at the Special Operations Division Director and wondered why the sudden concern. It was not something that could be solved overnight, if at all, like incidents of indiscriminate roadside shooting, spraying cars and two cabs with AK-47 fire. Namir’s leg had to be acting up again, he thought comfortably, although he wasn’t showing it. The old codger looked fit and would probably outlast everybody. As far as Matan knew, the Director was only fifty-eight, but the thick gray hair, hard chiseled features, prominent nose and dark complexion, made him appear older. Except for the eyes, deep green and lively. Despite the apparent external decrepitude,the eyes revealed an indomitable spirit, one that ruled his department with a rod of iron. Special Ops had not always followed the strict interpretation of its charter, earning a degree of enmity along the way not only from its sister departments, but from the Knesset as well. However, it did get things done, most of the time. In his book, that made up for everything else. Politicians did not need to know what their intelligence organs were up to – until it failed them. Namir made sure his department did not fail. Matan liked that kind of thinking.

From what he knew, the Metsada chief had always been involved with intelligence, taking over the Special Operations Division in 2002 after a stint in the Political Action and Liaison Department. A former Mirage pilot, Namir was a rising star in the Air Force Intelligence before being recruited by Mossad into the Collections Department. His organizational and administrative abilities, coupled with a flair for the innovative, ensured he gravitated through Mossad’s operational sections as quickly as possible. Running Metsada seemed to have given him a home. But he worried about the chief, especially after the sudden death of his wife. Work was the only thing that seemed to matter to him these days.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing some of those holier-than-thou Hamas leadership strapping on a bomb themselves for the cause,” Matan muttered sourly and Namir grinned.

“You and me both. Maybe we should send them a memo. How about that!”

“Something to think about. Anyway, the Research Department has given us a couple of leads, but we’re not moving fast anywhere.”

“The Director is looking closely at this one, Matan.”

“Kameer?” Matan looked incredulous. “He’s got nothing better to do than be bothered by a suicide bombing incident?”

The corner of Namir’s mouth twitched in sympathy. “I wouldn’t be too critical. The Prime Minister is giving him a hard time and we must do our duty as we see it,” he deadpanned. “Sharron Ibrahim’s niece was injured in that blast.”

“It’s an internal security matter,” Matan protested. “Shabak are handling it.”

“Apparently not well enough. That’s why we are involved. Just keep an eye on things, will you?”

Namir regarded his senior case officer with deliberate scrutiny and no small measure of fondness. A reserve colonel, having enlisted in the Army for officer training following the death of his mother and two sisters in 1979, forty-two, wife and a daughter, Matan had proven himself to be an exceptional analyst. Recruited from the Army into the Political Action and Liaison Department, it did not take long for the hierarchy to spot a rising talent. Less than a year later, working for the Research Department, Matan had produced a number of analyses and action proposals deemed controversial even by Mossad’s progressive standards. Namir had one of them on his desk now. Two years later, with his help, Matan wound up in Metsada, the Special Operations Division; Mossad’s action arm dealing with assassinations, sabotage and covert paramilitary projects. The dirty tricks department, he reflected with satisfaction and a measure of pride. As a case officer and stage manager, Matan had no equal. His operations to date were planned and executed with faultless precision and total deniability. No loose ends, simply painstaking attention to minutiae and detail. And right now, for his scheme to work, Namir desperately needed that skill.

Despite the years, Matan carried himself with confident ease, his lips pressed permanently into a thin line. Some still called it arrogance, but in reality, it was a reflection of his capabilities, exaggerated perhaps by his officer training and automatic authority. Colonels always acted like they were one rung below God. Hair still black, Namir noted, marred by a hint of white at the temples. Long face, dark complexion, square jaw, Matan could easily have passed for an Arab and spoke Farsi without an accent. The dark mahogany eyes, sunk deep into the skull, were bright with amusement. They were also eyes of a man who had suffered much and managed to survive and thrive. Namir knew that Matan yearned to be out in the field, but he was far too valuable to risk losing on some gutter-crawling ops, being groomed for a deputy’s position in the Collections Department. That had rankled at first, but in the end, Matan had accepted the inevitable exigency of the service. This should be especially sweet, Namir thought – bittersweet perhaps.

“Be that as it may,” he allowed, “but I didn’t call you in to talk about the Hamas or Shabak’s incompetence. I want to broach the possibility of a bang and burn black ops. You would be the team cutout and action officer.”

Matan sat up and the small hairs on the back of his neck bristled with anticipation. A bang and burn usually involved demolition and sabotage, invariably in foreign territory. That meant dangerous territory. The two years spent with Metsada had been, in the main, soul-fulfilling experiences, but with little personal excitement. Namir had allowed him two opportunities to conduct a field mission, one in Lebanon and one in Jordan. Both went well and eliminated their targets cleanly – Syrian agents who were providing Hezbollah with advanced tactical training. The operations left him physically taxed and he knew his field ops days were numbered. He’d had a taste and it was enough, content now to be a planner and organizer, the invisible man who pulled the strings. What had changed that Namir would now want him out there?

“Sounds, ah, like a challenge,” he ventured cautiously, looking for traps.

Namir chuckled. He couldn’t help it. The dangled bait was sniffed, but Matan was too good an operative to snap at the obvious.

“You’ll enjoy this one. It’s something you dreamed up yourself.”

“I’ve put up lots of screwy proposals,” Matan muttered acidly, “which you and the Director never tire of telling me.” Only one person was spoken to or referred in the third person – Doron Kameer, head of Mossad.

“Someone has to restrain your youthful enthusiasm,” Namir said dryly, then cleared his throat. “Seriously, though. This time, there will be no restraints, no half measures. On this one we’re playing for broke.”

“Okay, my curiosity is aroused.” They had known each other long enough to be on first-name basis. Besides, Matan had sufficient seniority not to be overawed by silly bureaucratic protocol.

“What I have in mind might save us from a confrontation with Iran.”

“What will save us is to simply bomb the place,” Matan said evenly, perfectly serious. “Waiting for the UN or the U.S. to hammer out an acceptable solution is an exercise in futility and you know it. A surgical strike will set them squawking, but it would also eliminate the threat.”

“Not a novel idea and something your military colleagues would love to do. Politically though, it isn’t an option. However, we could get someone else to do the job for us and wear the heat. How about that!”

Matan sat back in shock and his eyes darted to the overturned papers on Namir’s desk. He couldn’t be considering…

“You want to bring the United States into direct conflict with Iran? That’s crazy!”

– Excerpted from Cry of Eagles. All rights reserved.


PUYB Blog Tour: The Sexiest Drink on Earth by Mark Spivak

The Sexiest Drink on Earth

By Mark Spivak

How did a something that tastes like castor oil flavored with tree bark become the sexiest drink on earth?

Iconic SpiritsGaspare Campari invented his famous potion in 1860 by infusing sixty herbs, spices, barks and fruit peels in a mixture of alcohol and distilled water. It became a sensation, and Campari turned into an entrepreneur. There’s only one problem: Campari is bitter, and human beings have taste receptors for bitterness that function as an early warning system, alerting us that we are about to consume something that might be toxic or poisonous.

Imagine the dilemma for your brain as you take a sip of cold, refreshing Campari and soda. Part of your mind is saying, “Don’t drink this—it might kill you!” In another sector of your cranium, though, the drink is perceived to be sophisticated and desirable. Given that more than 27 million bottles of Campari are sold each year, the brain has obviously found a way to disregard the potential dangers of bitterness. In researching my book, Iconic spirits: An Intoxicating History, I spoke to scientists doing research on the physiology of taste, and they all had a theory on how this conflict was resolved.

More importantly, though, how did Campari come to be regarded as the sexiest drink on earth?

The shimmering red potion may be infused with dozens of herbs and spices, but the advertising images have always contained a strong dose of forbidden fruit. In its marketing materials, the company describes Campari as a “symbol of passion” and goes on to say that this passion “expresses itself in terms of seduction, seduction and transgression…”

The famous 1920 poster by Marcello Dudovich is a good example. Two lovers are locked in an embrace that can only be described as smoldering, balanced precariously on the edge of a sofa and enhanced by a background of soft crimson light. Two glasses, one half-filled with Campari, sit on a nearby table. The woman’s hand rests on the man’s cheek in a classic gesture, pushing him away and embracing him at the same time.

In 1998 Campari began working with the celebrated Indian director Tarsem, who created the series of “Red Passion” ads. The campaign was the first in Italy to present female homosexuality in a straightforward yet compelling way; from there it went on to target other social norms. In a 2005 commercial, a man stands at the bar during a reception when he spots a tall, beautiful woman on the other side of the room. They exchange looks. The man obtains a Campari on the rocks from the bartender and follows the woman to a secludedpart of the building. His hand slips as he approaches her, and hesplashes Campari on her dress and cleavage. Slowly and tantalizingly, the woman removes her top and reveals herself to be a man. The man then takes off his shirt to display his bra and the fact that he’s actually a woman. The ad blends mystery and intrigue, explores repressed desires, and blurs the lines of gender identity—all in sixty seconds.

So relax and enjoy a cocktail made with Campari, whether it’s a Negroni, Americano, Garibaldi (Campari and orange juice) or a classic Campari and soda—but make sure that someone you care about is there to enjoy it with you.

Mark Spivak smMark Spivak is an award-winning writer specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and since 2001 has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, as well as the restaurant critic for Palm Beach Illustrated. His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Ritz-Carlton, Continental, Art & Antiques, Newsmax, Dream of Italy and Arizona Highways. From 1999-2011 he hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talk show on the Palm Beach affiliate of National Public Radio.

Mark began writing Iconic Spirits after becoming fascinated with the untold stories behind the world’s greatest liquors. As a writer, he’s always searching for the unknown details that make his subjects compelling and unique.His latest book is Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History.

Visit Mark’s website at http://www.iconicspirits.net.

Become a fan of Mark Spivak at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mark.spivak.3

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Character Interview: Jasmin “Psycho” Kramer from Richard Blunt’s fantasy novel ‘Lucas Trent 3: Grand Theft Magic”

We’re thrilled to have here today Jasmin “Psycho” Kramer from Richard Blunt’s fantasy novel, Lucas Trent 3: Grand Theft Magic,. Jasmin is a 20 year old Administrator living in Dunstable, England.

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

Thank you so for this interview, Jasmin.  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?

Grand Theft MagicIn a book like this it’s hard to be portrait fairly. Unless of course your name is Lucas Trent. *laughs* I think everyone from the “Mages of the round fireplace” would have loved to get more frontline attention, but I guess my time will come when Lucas finally gets to interact a bit more with some girls. Our beloved author tries to dodge that bullet pretty rigorously, but he can’t do that forever.

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

Oh, I definitely feel that my personality is colorful enough. The problem only is that Lucas is so bad in reading personalities… And mostly this story is written from his point of view, so his misreads are what you see as well. But under the wraps I think I am doing OK. And it might even be an advantage that nobody really knows who I am.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

My tits of course. Nobody has bigger ones or better formed ones in the entire story. Oh, sorry, you were asking for traits, not trademarks… *grins* Well, seriously, I am the Psycho, so I am the one who deals with human emotions. I think my strongest trait is my capability to calm everyone down. Although… Is this a trait? Or is this part of my magic? Damn…

Worse trait?

I talk too much. But I think you can tell that by now, can’t you?

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!)?

I think Richard once said that the perfect fit for me would be Katherine Hicks. Don’t know why he said that, I don’t even know who that is. I would call for Bonnie Wright. Although… She might need some graphics editing to fit…

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yeah, but only a very short one. And I think it’s only there because Richard wanted to annoy me. How could I fall for such a dickhead in the first place?

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

I don’t get nervous. Ever. Well… Except when I am in a hospital. But that’s another story.

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?

That would for sure be Cedric Mason. The others might not have noticed it yet, but deep down he is pretty evil… And while that might have turned out to be an advantage for us so far I would never want to be like that.

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

I feel great about it. I am a little afraid though… I know that there is a fourth part coming up, and knowing the ending of this one I am not sure if I will like the next one.

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

Richard, next time you better give me the central role. Otherwise I will make your life miserable.

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

I don’t think Richard will let me roam freely again after what I just said, but let’s see.

 

Publishing under a pen name to keep his personal life separate from his writing life, Richard Blunt was raised in the heart of Europe, in a nation where English is not the native language. Like his heroes, Richard blunt is nothing more than a shadow – a specter that whispers a story for everyone to hear.

His latest book is Lucas Trent 3: Grand Theft Magic.

You can visit his website at http://www.lucastrent.com/ and his blog at http://richardblunt.blogspot.com/.

After a field trip suddenly turns into a near catastrophe Lucas and the others shift into high gear to avenge their injured friend. But when an unexpected foe arrives at the scene they quickly find themselves in a life or death situation that not even their extraordinary skills can solve. Realizing that they have bitten off more than they can chew Lucas desperately starts looking for trustworthy allies, just to find out once again that things are never as easy as they appear at first.

Can they survive the battles at hand? Will they be able to tell friend from foe? Or will the epic quest they have stumbled into be too much for them to handle?

Follow Lucas Trent and his friends through an action-paced story of mysteries, secrets and deceptions and find out…

 

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