Archive for June, 2016


Inside the Book:

Title: Until Next Time
Author: Nictoria Robbins
Publisher: Xlibris
Genre: Fiction
Format: Ebook/Paperback

Jake and Kirsten met on an online dating site, and their journey began, sometimes difficult; but for some reason, they keep coming back to each other, to lost souls. Kirsten is not sure what Jake wants, and neither does she. This story is about two people who try to hide their feelings. They care about each other, but it will end up tearing them apart. Not all stories have a happy ending.

Meet the Author:

Nictoria Robbins lives in Queensland, Australia. Her children have grown, and she started writing poetry and short stories and, from the enjoyment of writing, wrote her first book. Nictoria also loves to read and her garden, family, and friends who are close to heart. She hopes you enjoy the journey that she has written.


Nictoria is giving away a $25 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 $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins June 27 and ends on July 8.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on July 9.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Inside the Book:

The Prevention of Crohn's Disease
Title: The Prevention of Crohn’s Disease
Author: Gilles R.G. Monif, M.D.
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Genre: Health
Format: Ebook

Prior to 1936, Crohn’s disease was a rare and unrecognized disease entity. Today, the United States is the midst of a rapidly growing epidemic. It is estimated that between 800,000 and 1.2 million citizens are currently afflicted. The unanswered question is WHY? In the 1990s, circumstantial scientific data inferred a potential causal relationship between Crohn’s disease in humans and mycobacterial pathogen in domestic animals, Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). When it was documented that MAP survived pasteurization and was potentially present in milk, infant formula, and powdered milk, a global precautionary alarm button should have been pushed by those who govern in the public trust. PREVENTION OF CROHN’S DISEASE describes MAP’s journey across the zoonotic bridge between animals and humans and the unique circumstances by which it allegedly produces disease.

The Prevention of Crohn’s Disease is available for order at

Meet the Author:

Gilles R. G. Monif, M.D. has served as Special Interest Consultant for Infectious Diseases to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. A world recognized leader in infectious diseases that affect women and their unborn infants, he co-founded the Infectious Disease Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology. His text book Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology, currently in its sixth edition, is the standing reference text for the discipline.


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Monique DornovitchMonique Domovitch has had many careers, starting with being one of Canada’s top models. When she retired from modeling she moved on to a career in the financial services as an adviser and planner, specializing in helping women attain financial freedom. During those years, she was also one of the first women in Canada to host her own national financial television show. During all those years, Monique’s dream was always to someday become a writer. Ten years ago, Monique attended a writer’s conference where the first line of one of her novels was read out loud in a workshop, attracting the attention of a publisher and an agent.

Since that life-changing conference, Monique Domovitch has published nine books, four with Penguin using the pen name Carol Ann Martin, two with Harlequin using her own name, and another two with Lansen Publishing. Scorpio’s Kiss was previously published as two novels, Scorpio Rising and The Sting of the Scorpio. Scar Tissue, her latest, is her ninth novel and she is hard at work on her tenth.

A great believer in the energizing power of writers’ conferences, she says that if not for that first conference she attended, she would not be published today.

For More Information

About the Book:

Scorpio’s Kiss is a spell-binding tale of love, ambition and greed that will keep the reader turning the pages until its surprise ending. Set in New York and Paris amid the glamorous and competitive worlds of art and real estate, Scorpio's KissScorpio’s Kiss takes the reader from the late 1940s to the 1960s through the tumultuous lives of its heroes.

There is Alex Ivanov, the son of a Russian immigrant and part-time prostitute. He yearns to escape his sordid life and achieve fame and fortune. His dreams of becoming a world-class builder are met with countless obstacles, yet he perseveres in the hope of someday receiving the recognition he craves.

Half a world away, Brigitte Dartois is an abused teenager who runs into the arms of a benefactor with an agenda all his own. When she finds out that her boss has an ulterior motive, she flees again, determined to earn her living through her art. This career brings her fame, but also the unwanted attention of her early abuser.

Domovitch’s novel is a compelling tale, filled with finely etched characters and a superb understanding of the power of ambition. Scorpio’s Kiss promises to resonate with all who once had a dream.

For More Information

  • Scorpio’s Kiss is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.


Monique Domovitch is giving away 5 paperback and 5 ebook copies of SCORPIO’S KISS!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Five people will be selected to win one of five paperback copies and five people will be selected to win one of five ebook copies of SCORPIO’S KISS
  • This giveaway begins April 18 and ends on July 18.
  • Winners will be announced on Monique’s tour page on July 19.

Good luck everyone!



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Would you call yourself a born writer?

I don’t know that I would call myself a born writer, but I most definitely am a born storyteller. I’m the oldest of seven girls and to this day my sisters still talk about the times I used to lock us in a room and tell them spooky stories about ghosts and witches. They’d be so frightened they’d run crying to our parents and I’d be warned again to “stop scaring your sisters.” But, of course, as soon as they got over their fright, they came running back, begging for more stories, and then I’d be in trouble again.

What was your inspiration for Scorpio’s Kiss?

The inspiration for the main character was Donald Trump. Back in the seventies, I used to model with Ivana, his first wife. After their marriage, she and I stayed in touch and I had the pleasure of visiting the Trumps on numerous occasions. I was always amazed with his ambition. His every achievement was followed with by another bigger goal. When I wrote Scorpio’s Kiss, a story about an ambitious real estate developer, I naturally based my main character on Trump. Having said that, I have to add that the story is fiction, entirely a product of my imagination.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I especially like to write about strong women, women who go through challenging situations and rise from the ashes. I love survivors, people with courage and determination. Those are the people I write about.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Scorpio’s Kiss was originally published as two novels, Scorpio Rising, and The Sting of Scorpio. I wrote them back when I was still working nine to five, so I used to get up at five in the morning and write until I had to get ready for work. After work I’d come home and write again from nine to midnight. I kept this schedule for periods of three to four weeks, until I needed some time off. Then when I felt rested enough, I’d start again. It took me two years to complete the two novels.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Yes and no. I am very disciplined when facing a deadline. However I tend to write in spurts of energy. I can go on for ten hours a day for weeks, and then I feel burnt out and need a rest. During this time I might not write more than a few lines a day until I have my energy back. If you ask my husband, he thinks I have incredible discipline. Maybe I’m just hard on myself. The bottom line is I put out at least one book a year, usually one every nine or ten months.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

I had to remember that the story begins in the fifties, at a time when there was no Internet, at a time when gender roles were clearly defined and couples did not divorce quite so easily. It was difficult to restrain my female character and make her behave in the appropriate way for the time.  These days if a man treated a woman the way she was treated, she’d be out of there before anyone could say ciao.

What do you love most about being an author?

When I was a child, I was called a dreamer. I guess I still am. I dream up stories about everyone. In a restaurant I might imagine the person sitting across from me is a spy, that the woman wearing the black dress and the bright red lipstick, is wearing a disguise and following her husband to see where he’s really going. Such fun. I am always fascinated by the world around me and I want to know everybody’s secrets. That is often the way I come up with stories. I see something that makes me wonder, what if…

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self-publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I’ve written nine books, six of which were published by traditional publishers. But for Scorpio’s Kiss and my latest novel, Scar Tissue, I decided to go the self-published route. I’m taking a step away from cozy mysteries, which is the genre for which I became a best-selling novelist. Generally when a publisher has a successful author, they generally don’t like them deviating from their brand. I wanted to establish myself as a suspense author, so I decided to go for it by myself. I’m happy to report that the results are positive. Once I’ve proven my worth, I might go back to traditional publishing. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I’d like to invite everyone who has read and enjoyed Scorpio’s Kiss to please take a moment to post a review on Amazon.

Where can we find you on the web?

My website is MCDomovitch.com

On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authormoniquedomovitch

On Twitter @Moniquedomovitc

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THe Zombie Game banner 2

What makes thriller authors tick?  We’re happy to have on board Glenn Shephard, author of the thriller novel, The Zombie Game.

Glenn ShepardGlenn’s first novel, Surge, was written while he was still a surgical resident at Vanderbilt. In the following years he wrote The Hart Virus, a one-thousand-page epic about the AIDS crisis, as well as three other novels. In 2012, he created “Dr. Scott James,” his Fugitive-like action-hero. The first volume of the series was The Missile Game, followed shortly afterward by The Zombie Game. Born on a farm in eastern Virginia, Dr. Shepard lives and maintains a thriving surgical practice in Williamsburg.

Visit Glenn’s website at www.glennshepardauthor.com.

About the Book:

ISIS terrorists are plotting to kill the Pope during his visit to America.

The Zombie Game KindleFireTheir plan: Hijack a hospital ship in Haiti, convert it to a missile launcher, and cruise into Miami Harbor, unnoticed.

Their only obstacle: Dr. Scott James is a volunteer on the ship, and he’s recruited a squad of Haitian zombies to stop the attack. But nothing adds up … until the last seven minutes.


Jacques Jacobo, “Jakjak,” is the Haitian Finance Minister’s personal bodyguard. He’s just taken two bullets in the chest trying to stop an assassination attempt on his boss.


Dr. Scott James is a volunteer surgeon on a hospital ship anchored off the coast of earthquake-ravaged Haiti. He’s got his share of personal demons.


Omar Farok wants to rule ISIS, and the world. He’s just taken over the hospital ship and converted it into a launch platform for a nuclear strike on Miami.


Sanfia is the most powerful Vodoun priestess in Haiti. Omar Farok will pay her big money to turn Dr. James into a zombie.


Beautiful Elizabeth is one of the most notorious freelance operatives in the world. She’s come to Haiti to defuse the bomb.

They’re all about to play The Zombie Game.

For More Information

  • The Zombie Game is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

The Zombie Game

Would you call yourself a born writer?

Definitely. I write whether I like it or not! I’ve been writing novels for years as a source of enjoyment. I really didn’t think too much about the publishing process until I had amassed an enormous amount of work. Right about that time was when I created the character of Dr. Scott James, and I knew that the game had changed.

What was your inspiration for The Zombie Game?

My inspiration for The Zombie Game was Wade Davis’ true story of story of experimenting with Zombie drugs, The Serpent and The Rainbow. I really loved how he portrayed Zombie-ism in a realistic light. That’s what I have tried to do in my book. Of course I was also deeply inspired by my forays into Haiti after the earthquake. I went there to do volunteer surgery. While I was there I became thoroughly enamored with the people and the culture.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I like to take real stories in the headlines and put an unexpected spin on them. The theme here, I guess you could say, is a regular guy caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

It takes about six months, from beginning to end. A lot of that is research time. I research as much as I write. Also, there is the thought-time. I spend a lot of time working out the stories in my head. My novels move from one location to another, and quickly, so I have to think a lot about the twists and turns through before I can write them.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I start slowly, whether I like it or not. The early stages are mainly about researching, so it’s hard to produce a lot of pages, regardless of how disciplined I try to be. But as the story progresses and I get more and more research behind me, I speed up and write a lot of pages. It’s not a matter of discipline as much as I have a lot to write about—and I get excited as the book builds to the big explosion at the end (or gun shot, or …)

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

The hardest thing is getting around people’s perception of what a Zombie actually is. A Zombie is a person who has been drugged and perhaps physically conditioned to do whatever their masters suggest. This is hard for people to believe, so I had to be very meticulous in the portrayal of the Zombies in the book.

What do you love most about being an author?

Tough to say. The reviews have warmed my heart. The email and comments by the readers have been really great to see. I would say, though, that the writing itself, especially when I’m near the end, has been the biggest thrill.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I started my own firm, Mystery House Publishing, and hired some talented people to do all of the cover designs, typesetting, editing, what have you. The process is indeed lengthy, though. And expensive. We have ended up spending a lot more time on editing and proofing than I would have ever thought possible. I’ve been pretty happy with the whole thing. We’ve sold about six thousand books so far, and have been on the bestseller list over at Amazon Kindle. We’re building a readership, you can’t really ask for more.

Where can we find you on the web?


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patrick headshot interviewsAs a toddler, Patrick C. Greene was creating horrors in crayon and magic marker upon every available surface. Not surprisingly, he soon discovered comic books and immersed himself in the fantastic worlds found therein. Horror fiction and films came next, and despite spending nights of terror hiding under covers, he always found himself drawn back to tales of dark fates.

Greene cut his fangs in the screenwriting business but found his true calling in the world of prose fiction of the kind his heroes King, Barker and Koontz create. With the success of his first novel PROGENY, and the upcoming THE CRIMSON CALLING from Hobbes End Publishing, Greene presents a brand of horror as emotional as it is terrifying, as engaging as it is suspenseful.

Living at night, deep in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Greene answers the call of his morbid muse when not enjoying monstrous helpings of horror, kung fu and doom metal.

Connect with Patrick on the net: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Check out The Crimson Calling on Amazon.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Crimson Calling To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?

A: Centuries after their eradication and the death of their Queen in the Great Fire of London in 1666, the Vampire population now numbers in only the hundreds. A few of the remaining survivors regrouped and a High Council was born. Now a new threat has arrived: modern day military is not only tracking members of the council, they are attempting to create their own vampire soldiers. Enter Olivia Irons. Ex Black Ops. Doing her best to live a normal civilian life, but it never feels right. No family, no friends, and trouble always seems to follow. When the Sanguinarian Council offers her the chance of a lifetime, the biggest risk of all seems like the only path left to choose. How will she answer The Crimson Calling?

Q: What do you think makes a good vampire novel? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: It’s a bit of a balancing act, given that there are so many vampire films and books now. You have to meet certain expectations while defying or reversing others. For me, I’m never going to read a vampire romance novel but they aren’t written for me. For me, it has to be scary.

crimsonThree elements I think are necessary are intelligence on the part of the vampire (s) whether they are pro or antagonist, some sort of relationship between mortals and vamps, and, lastly, some erotic undertones. Vampires have become as much a symbol of sex as of death.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: Most of it was on the fly. I knew there would be a loner recruited by (more-or-less) benevolent vampires. It surprised me that the loner was a young female, as I had pictured a male.

Some times during the process, I could outline a few scenes ahead, but then I had to leave it alone and hope for the best upon finishing that sequence. By the midway point, it basically stream of consciousness. Even as a writer, I don’t like to peek too far ahead.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: I wrote a brief bio for Liv, the kind of thing you might pick up in a conversation with someone you’re stranded in an elevator with for an hour or so. Beyond that I did find myself revising some elements of her but not to the point of deus ex machina, if that makes sense. Sometimes you have to lay down the cards and leave them, see what play off of them.


Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: With Crimson and my previous novel Progeny, I tried to intersperse exposition-heavy scenes with the more action driven elements of the story, which often means jumping around a bit in the timeline. It’s important to know, for instance, that Olivia is dealing with heavy emotional baggage, but my reasoning was that the source for said baggage need not be tossed right onto the table as one complete package. We all understand loss. We all throw up barriers against its effects. It’s interesting to me to understand not just the loss itself, but the coping strategies as well, through the action, not outside of it. So, though there’s no set formula, I try to create a scene that leaves the reader with a feeling of “Good lord, why’d they do that?” then offer a piece of backstory that serves as a brief respite while giving some clarity while the event is still fresh.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: When reading Ian Fleming James Bond novels as a youth, I found that 007’s globetrotting gave the character a sense of confidence and coolness. I personally tend to have some trepidation about being in places with which I’m not familiar, and Bond was always up on local traditions and customs. So the setting becomes a character inasmuch as it is viewed through the character. When discussing the various international locales of Crimson, I sought to deal with their strangeness rather than their familiarity. Vampire stories need an air of mystery, which is one of the few small differences from zombie stories, for instance, which work better with a sense of familiarity.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: Redemption is the only theme isn’t it? Even if it’s never achieved, we’d all like to have done something differently at some point, or get a shot at a similar situation so we can use what we have learned. A good many characters get a shot at redemption in Crimson and their success levels are wildly divergent.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: Eye of the beholder, simplistic as it sounds. Think of a movie or book that terrified or thrilled you as a child, yet seems almost laughable all these years later. If the creator felt some sense of accomplishment beyond the financial payoff, they can be said to have endeavored in genuine art, by definition.

Editing is an absolute necessity for an author, and all authors should learn to crush their egos underfoot for the sake of the work itself. You need beta readers, you need a sense of neatness and fulfillment throughout your work, and you need to realize that as a creator at any professional level you are giving away that work and letting it become the property of your patrons. So learn to value criticism and outside input. If you can’t cut the fat, be willing to hire someone who will.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Hm. If I’m limited to three I would say third is an enjoyment for at least some part of the process, be it the writing itself or reading the reviews.

Second would be a very thick skin. This plays into the above comment about editing; criticism is unavoidable, unless you’re never putting your work before the public. Unreasonable, even hateful criticism is very likely. Welcome it.

Finally is the habit, discipline or irrational impulse that, like a whispering devil on your shoulder, says you have to do it. Even if it’s only a few sentences, or just a few letters – if you’re not impelled to write something daily with an irresistible force, just forget it. Go back to your smart phone. Some of us are trying to take a serious crack at this and you’re making us look silly.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: Disagree. Writing is like entering worlds with more meaning and adventure and love than anything you’ll find in reality. You can enter this world essentially at will and bring the essence of its joy or sorrow or strangeness back with you and cloak yourself in it. You can move people, and that’s a gift not a curse.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: Of course I read Stephen King’s On Writing, and of course I recommend it. I don’t know if they still print that big ass Writers Market manual every year, but if not you can track down copies pretty easily, and they always have several articles about the process from famous and successful writers. I recommend those.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: I would say to all those solitary writers out there languishing on obscurity or oppressive isolation – you are not alone, clichéd as it sounds. You’re tethered to me and a million other world makers, and we are feeding one another.

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Inside the Book:

Sojourn pic
Title: A Sojourn Among the Avatars of Wisdom
Author: Dudley Mecum
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Visionary and Metaphysical
Format: Ebook

Chris Cole enjoys aiming for the stars. After he rockets into orbit aboard the space shuttle, his mission is cut short when he is the victim of an accident aboard the International Space Station. Whisked back to earth for medical observation, Chris is eventually released. Before his return flight to Kennedy Space Center the next day, Chris decides to attend a nearby medieval fair with an acquaintance—a decision that will change the course of his life forever. Shortly after the astronaut’s arrival at the festival, the king unexpectedly selects Chris to be a contestant in a tournament. As Chris’s quest to become a knight begins, he learns how to wield a sword, battle foes, and achieve greatness. Unfortunately, villainy, treachery, and a crucible await him. As enemies emerge from the shadows, others use him as a pawn to settle old scores. Guided by a cast of colorful characters who dispense timeless advice, Chris is overcome with self-doubt as he ponders whether it is really possible to change his destiny. In this gripping fantasy tale, wisdom of the world’s greatest philosophers and modern sages is brought to life as one man attempts to escape from a prison of his own making.

A Sojourn Among the Avatars of Wisdom is available for order at


Celestial Navigation

Weather permitting, celestial navigation allowed the ancients to navigate across the unforgiving
seas. Many a seafarer looked to the heavens for guidance and received it. What about us land dwellers? What guides us along the “river of life”?  Not the constellations of stars that we are familiar with.  What then?  Most of us are familiar with quote books in which the counsel is compiled by author or by subject. Each quote is like a star in an alien sky.  It is only in relationship with other stars that enables celestial navigation to take place.

Accordingly, we look to the heavens for some pattern of stars that joins wisdom across subjects.  In essence, we are searching for constellations of wisdom: a pattern in the sky that will guide us through the trials of life.  What kind of book would project these constellations of wisdom into the heavens?  It should have the counsel from the world’s greatest sages.  That would be a start. However, the end result would be exceptionally dry, like a parent lecturing a child before that youth has a chance to get a word in edgewise.  Then how would the conversation unfold?  It would be a dialog between the person seeking advice and the individual giving it. (Remember, there are many sages able to give counsel and
plenty of us seeking answers.)

Such a conversation wouldn’t be effective because the end result would be too discordant: there would be too many conversations going on at the same time and the resultant wisdom would not be conveyed. Perhaps a better way to impart knowledge would revolve around the adventures of a fictitious character, which calls for the suspension of disbelief.  Moreover, a “fish out of water” story would be even better.  One that involves leaving this realm and returning to it after having his hopes and dreams dashed, one that forces him out of his comfort zone.  Add external conflict and self-doubt and we have instances in which the possibility for change exists for the protagonist, and by extension, for those who seek it. Consider A Sojourn Among the Avatars of Wisdom to do just that!




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Meet the Author:


Dudley Mecum, a trained commercial pilot, earned an MBA in Finance, later working at a defense manufacturer. He currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas, where he enjoys fine art, swimming, and virtual flying.

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The Reclamation banner

The ReclamationTitle: THE RECLAMATION
Author: Thorn Osgood
Publisher: Mind Wings Audio
Pages: 595
Genre: Scifi/Fantasy

Corilan, 25, is an IT project manager by day, and spends her free time involved in ecological organizations endeavors. When her long-absent negligent father, Nolan, wants to see her she’s annoyed. Finally, she decides to see him and despite the friction over his absence, from that meeting her life evolves. Nolan tells her of his birthright, an environmental organization, the School of Ancestral Guidance (SAG) and its members having ancestral guides. This clarifies Corilan’s gift, a voice inside, something she has never revealed. Knowledge of SAG feeds her obsession against environmental destruction.

Then an invisible entity, Earthos, manifests itself to her and proposes assistance in uniting people that want earth preservation. Years, she has been seeking a way to unite conservationist factions and still has no solution. Inspired by her inheritance, she accepts Earthos’ proposal and infuses with him. Then, she joins the SAG organization. From her infusion, she soon discovers abilities, among them lightning bolt generation, mind reading and control.

Armed with powerful abilities and her ancestral guide, Corilan must take an unexpected path. Then she discovers who her real enemies are and must find a way to defeat them.

For More Information

  • The Reclamation is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • The book is also available at Kobo.
  • Read a preview of his book at his website.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.


First Chapter:


Chapter 1

Corilan closed the back door to her new place and carefully removed her siec, making sure the acidic residue of atmospheric particles did not make contact with anything. After taking off her gloves, she removed her ENAZ mask and placed it on one of the moving crates nearby. She examined her siec; a cloak made of biodegradable mesh that served as a sieve to catch and block atmospheric particles. The particles grew heavier after dark and attached to the fabric, creating large clumps of acidic residue that could easily rub off on her skin or quickly eat through more vulnerable materials. Two more wears, she figured. After she shoved her gloves in one of the siec’s pockets, she hung the cloak on the coatrack by the back door. The visibility lens and nasal filters in the mask could be cleaned later.

For nearly five years, this was the process she had gone through daily to go outside, and she was pissed. Life did not have to be this way—it was a widely known fact that the deterioration of the environment was caused by the actions of humans. Yet industry and national leadership chose to do nothing; nothing that was truly effective. She dreamed of finding a way to resolve the environmental problems, in spite of the indifference of corporate CEOs and government leaders. Her body became rigid, her teeth clenched; her hands tensed and became fists at the thought. Those avaricious, self-serving bastards! To lead opposition against the environmental status quo and reverse the damage, that’s what she wanted. Every time she put on her outer gear or removed it, these were the thoughts that filled her mind, leaving her helpless and frustrated. Ticked off that leadership was so obliging to industry . . .

Catching her runaway thoughts, she refocused her thinking and realized she was still standing by the back door.

Then she remembered what she had placed in her shoulder bag the day before the move. Her eyes scanned the tops of the moving crates and boxes stacked on the floor and furniture. She located her bag, browsed the contents, and found what she was seeking. Corilan stared at the letter in her hand. She had found the piece of cursive-written correspondence on the floor when she’d come home the day before the movers arrived, and had stuffed it in her shoulder bag without opening it and continued packing. Who took time to write hard copy anything anymore? Moving to the kitchen counter, closer to the light, she opened the letter.


March 27, 2040


My Dear Daughter,


I received your thank-you card. Good to hear from you. I hope you’ll be happy in your new place.

You are probably surprised to hear from me so soon, but as I said in my previous letter, I would like to see you. I know I have not been a part of your life since your mother died, but I have not forgotten you.

I would like to see you on the second Sunday of next month. I will be in Pond Park at 6:00 p.m. If you decide not to come, I will understand. No matter what happens, you will always be loved.



Your father


Corilan laid the letter on the counter and pursed her lips—Nolan Troxler, her father. So soon? She hadn’t expected he would respond at all. Why would he? This was his second letter to her in her life. No surprise that he felt unworthy. Really, there was no other way he should feel. She hadn’t seen him in a little over twenty years. Hell, she couldn’t even remember his voice. The way she looked at his message, it was as if he was telling her, “I’m here now, let’s be family? Oh, and by the way, you’ve got two weeks to decide.” What made him think he could just arrive in town and tell her that? She felt anger rise inside, and a flush of warmth swept over her. Okay, her father had been widowed early in his marriage, but did that mean he’d had to abandon her?

She pulled out her wallet and looked at the pictures of her parents that her grandmother had given her. They looked so happy in the photo. Her own hazel eyes and thick, wavy, amber brown hair were just like her mother’s. Why did her father stay away? It could not possibly be because of her mother’s biracial heritage, could it? He always knew her mother’s background, and it had not mattered before. What was it with him? The anger boiled up and flowed through the tears rushing down her cheeks. Why was she crying, anyway? She probably was not going to get to see him even if she agreed to the meet-up. Who knows, he might not have the backbone to face her. Seeing her in person would not be the same as writing to her. Just more disappointment for her, she thought.

This had to be some kind of ruse. Why would he just show up, after two decades of silence? What did he really want? After returning the pictures to her wallet, she put it in her bag along with the letter. Then she flipped the light switch off and strolled over to the window, pulled the drapes aside, and gazed outside.

Dressed with the window’s dirty splotches, the polluted air looked like misshapen corporeal images. One thing was certain: No matter where she moved, she could never get away from the air pollution choking out Earth’s natural environment. For a moment, she stared at a hazy gray spot glowing in the darkness; probably the moon. She rubbed her eyes and shifted her thoughts. She liked this new, small, quiet community in Bowie, Maryland. It suited her well—not rowdy with people coming and going constantly. Most likely the neighbors were aware of the vacant detached townhouse in their cul-de-sac. They would awaken to a new resident on their block.

A problem with broken windows and the words “queen bitch” graffitied on her vehicle, along with feces smeared on her apartment door, more than once, had prompted her to contact law enforcement. She suspected Arley Hackett, a terminated employee from her job, but could not prove he was the vandal. The police’s recommendation was that she should move. “For your safety,” they had said. Her instructions to the movers had been an unmarked truck and a night move. She felt like a thief, and her paranoia was growing. What if the vandal found her new residence?

“Stay alert and be prudent, and know that you’re doing the right thing,” the voice inside her head said.

“I didn’t move here to continue glancing over my shoulder and wondering if I would have a skunk carcass or worse at my front door,” she shot back, annoyed with herself for being jumpy. Why was she so afraid, anyway? Communication with or from the voice was part of her life. As far back as she could remember, Innerme, her name for the voice she thought of as being male, had spoken to her, guiding her whenever she sought help; sometimes when she didn’t ask.

“You have done all you can do, except perhaps get a security system installed. Think about it. Would it make you feel safer? Relax you from being so uptight? You put yourself in a pins-and-needles state on your job daily, but you enjoy it. You do not need negative stress, and the vandalism problems are exactly that.”

“Maybe the security system would help. I’ll find out more and think about it,” she replied, calmed from her prior outburst.

Stepping away from the window, she glanced at the television. Probably not a good idea to turn it on, but at least it would soften the amplified silence. After plugging in the TV, she made a space on the couch and slumped down, resting her head on the pink and green cotton quilt made by her grandmother. Exhausted yet restless, she would never get to sleep now. Nerves, and not knowing what might happen if she slept, made her resist her weariness. If only her Scottish terrier, Sir Henry, were with her instead of in the kennel where she’d placed him until she was settled. She’d feel less uneasy.

Her father’s request to meet flooded her thoughts again. Had he been watching her? How had he known about her moving plans? Being suspicious made sense, but she had to admit that curiosity was overwhelming her. Why now, after all this time?

In the last six months, her father had paid off all her student loans. That in itself was pretty fantastic, but she wondered why he hadn’t contributed to her tuition while she was actually in college.

She considered the benefits of getting to know her father. Having a blood relative to visit and do things with on occasion might be nice. Well, only if they had similar interests. What if he wanted to control her life, tell her what she should do, criticize her choices, insert himself in every aspect of her life? He might not see her as an adult. In his mind’s eye, he might still think of her as a five-year-old and treat her like one. Just the thought caused her to sit up and stretch.

On the other hand, what if she were sick or dying? Would he be there for her or would he disappear for another decade, or let her die alone? She knew she would be there for him if she made him a part of her life.

After all, she reminded herself, there wasn’t a line of people waiting to befriend her. She had always felt like she did not belong, did not fit in, and she was okay with that. Going her own way, doing her thing was the code she lived by. Maybe getting to know her father would lead to something fresh and more interesting in her life. That definitely would interest her.

During her college years, she had spent her time studying, working with the Chesapeake Bay restoration program, attending environmental conventions, and occasionally going roller-skating. Not the types of activities one would find most students doing. She’d had two college boyfriends, but she had not been willing to allow time for them outside of her preferred activities, and they soon went their own ways.

Since finishing college at the University of Maryland and entering the workforce, she had not taken time for social activities: no skating, no get-togethers, no physical participation in environmental projects. Getting ahead in her career had been her primary concern, and now she wondered if that had been entirely the best decision. Although, thinking back on her past social experiences at parties, dating, and spending time with her peer group, social encounters had always been slim. Perhaps her choice was just her way of doing what she always had: focusing on what was most important that she could do, undisturbed by the social tides around her.

Interacting with more than a few people made her feel tense. One instance specifically stood out in her mind. College students who were not members of fraternity or sorority communities often spent social time together, and she was a part of that group. On those few occasions when she did hang out, she had observed and listened to everyone’s snipes, constant negative remarks, and other idle chatter, which never interested her. While at a pizza restaurant one evening, she had asked, “Has anyone read the latest news on U.S. environmental issues?” Chatter at the table shut down that instant. Everyone stared at her. Finally, one of the guys said, “No. We’re all in denial.” Laughter flooded the group and everyone acted as if she had not spoken. That had been her last group activity.

At her job, she could be all business and was considered an A-plus employee. Since the days of socializing at work were a relic of the past, current workforces were smaller with maximum output expected.

Aside from the chance to expand her social life, she might also be able to expand her knowledge of her family background, which was currently limited to what her grandparents had told her about her mother. If she got to know her father, she might be able to explain things about herself. Why she had a voice that talked to her. Why she was so obsessed with taking action against leadership and industry for not establishing the effective regulations needed to preserve the environment. Were these not reasons enough to meet with her father? Admittedly, she was very curious about her family tree.

Her thoughts faded as she drifted off to sleep.


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Inside the Book:


 In the Shadows
Author: Rachel Dunne
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Fantasy/Action Adventure
Format: Paperback/Ebook

A breathtaking talent makes her debut with this first book in a dark epic fantasy trilogy, in which a mismatched band of mortals led by a violent, secretive man must stand against a pair of resentful gods to save their world.

Eons ago, a pair of gods known as the Twins grew powerful in the world of Fiatera, until the Divine Mother and Almighty Father exiled them, binding them deep in the earth. But the price of keeping the fire lands safe is steep. To prevent these young gods from rising again, all twins in the land must be killed at birth, a safeguard that has worked until now.

Trapped for centuries, the Twins are gathering their latent powers to break free and destroy the Parents for their tyranny—to set off a fight between two generations of gods for control of the world and the mortals who dwell in it.

When the gods make war, only one side can be victorious. Joros, a mysterious and cunning priest, has devised a dangerous plan to win. Over eight years, he gathers a team of disparate fighters—Scal, a lost and damaged swordsman from the North; Vatri, a scarred priestess who claims to see the future in her fires; Anddyr, a drug-addled mage wandering between sanity and madness; and Rora and Aro, a pair of twins who have secretly survived beyond the reach of the law.

These warriors must learn to stand together against the unfathomable power of vengeful gods, to stop them from tearing down the sun . . . and plunging their world into darkness.


 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpgB&N


Musical Points of View


Music is vital to my writing process—I can’t write if I don’t have some sort of music playing, but I use music as much more than background noise. For each of In the Shadow of the Gods’ four main point of view characters, I have a carefully curated playlist with a different style of music, and starting a specific playlist helps me immediately get into the head of whichever character I’m writing.

Below, I’ll share snippets of each of my playlists, as well as why they so perfectly fit each of my point of view characters.



**Playlist link: https://open.spotify.com/user/122276589/playlist/37Xho45JMQSqC0hzetSKU5


Scal is a big, tough warrior, a man who can kill without thinking…but only because that’s the only way he knows how to live. At heart, he’s kind of a pacifist, and spends entirely too much time caught up in his own thoughts. His playlist is mostly songs that break my heart a little every time I hear them, heartfelt and sweet and sad…with, occasionally, a light and cheerful song thrown in, because that’s a pretty accurate mix of what makes Scal.



**Playlist link: https://open.spotify.com/user/122276589/playlist/0DuRqgKiBOA9DSgxnPOtld

Rora grows up to be an assassin and a thief, and never lets her lack of height get in her way. Even though it’s totally anachronistic, I always picture Rora as a rocker. She’s spunky and full of fire and totally willing to kick anyone’s butt, but she’s also too responsible to ever rock out too hard. Her kind of rock is more indie: mostly fun and upbeat, but also with some pretty deep, underlying meaning if you’re willing to listen close.



**Playlist link: https://open.spotify.com/user/122276589/playlist/1YA1LKJCiDN4fosOQCkdBP

Keiro, with his wandering heart and slow-and-steady-wins-the-race attitude, is pure indie folk. Slow and peaceful and thoughtful, his kind of music can wander just as much as he does but always hits the mark. This kind of music has always felt endlessly hopeful to me, even if it occasionally dips into melancholy—it still fits Keiro like a good old shoe.



**Playlist link: https://open.spotify.com/user/122276589/playlist/7fHeEjMtL94bteotEIM0t0

Joros is the idea-man, the schemer, and will do whatever he has to as long as he can come out on top without dirtying his own hands. His music is powerful and swaggering, tough as nails and taking no prisoners, and more intense than any of the others’. Some of his music also makes me chuckle every once in a while, whether it’s intentional or not…just like Joros himself.

Meet the Author:

Rachel Dunne

Living in the cold reaches of the upper Midwest with her great beast of a dog, Rachel Dunne has developed a great fondness for indoor activities. For as long as snow continues falling in Wisconsin, she promises to stay inside and keep writing.

Her first novel, In the Shadow of the Gods, was a semi-finalist for the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and will be published by Harper Voyager in June of 2016. Its two sequels will follow.


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Front_Cover_Image_The_ConveyanceHow far would you go for love?

The question has always fascinated me, and during my years as a child therapist, I witnessed to what lengths some people will go to own love or hide love or, in the extreme cases, destroy love.

In other words, love contains a measure of moral responsibility, a duty to protect others from the potential harm of it.

The Conveyance addresses the issue of moral responsibility on several levels, and that’s the story—the real story. Not monsters or mayhem or suicide, but relationships.


As I mentioned, I’d dealt with the moral responsibility of love as a therapist. While fascinating, as a speculative fiction novelist, I burned to take the issue of moral responsibility to the limit.

That’s the point where the “what if” questions usually start. My books have always begun with “what if?”

What if a bunch of bigots were confronted with the fact a black man was one of the strongest forces of good in our world became the foundation for Forever Man.

Revelation arose from, “What if an atheist were confronted with the irrefutable fact that God exists?”

But for the first time, when I was formulating my approach for The Conveyance, the “what if” failed me. I couldn’t find the story’s voice with “what if” when I knew from the start that something had already happened; a decision had already been made. The forces of plot and motivation were already in motion. “What if” didn’t matter as much. I was stuck.

To get out of this jam, I used an old therapy trick on myself. It’s called “empty chair.” A version of it gets used in The Conveyance when Dr. Brad Jordan asked his patient, Doug Belle, to talk to a doll as if it were his mother. To get past my block, I sat next to an empty chair and “debated” with myself; I spoke to the empty chair pretending the character of Brad Jordan were there, and really grilled him. I let my thoughts fly, didn’t pause, and eventually got mad. That’s when Brad came up with “it’s not what if, dammit, it’s how far!”

That little spark, hidden under layers of my own psyche, jumped out at me.

It wasn’t “what if Brad were confronted with a choice about moral responsibility?”

Instead, it was “how far would someone go for love, and how would he/she/they respond to the moral responsibility of love?”

Love of self, love of family…love of species.

On the surface, The Conveyance is a horror/sci-fi thriller, filled with murders, conspiracies, and violence. The heart of the story—the place where the blood flows and the excitement thrives—is about the moral responsibility of love, and how far people will go for love.

And as with life, not all of the outcomes are good.



Brian W. Matthews’s latest book is The Conveyance, a horror/science fiction novel about a child therapist who uncovers a secret long kept hidden form the world. Together with his friend, police detective Frank Swinicki, he doggedly follows a trail of murder and madness, eventually exposing a sinister conspiracy that threatens the existence of the human race. The Conveyance can be purchased directly from the publisher at www.journalstone.com or from Amazon.  

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Am I Going To Be Okay Banner 2
Am I Going to Be OkayTitle: Am I Going To Be Okay? Weathering the Storm of Mental Illness, Addiction and Grief
Author: Debra Whittam
Publisher: Turning Point International
Pages: 253
Genre: Memoir/Women’s Psychology/Applied Psychology

Am I Going To Be Okay? is an American story with a universal message. Ms. Whittam traces her history in the form of stories about her all too human, and sometimes unhinged family; she throws a rope to the little girl living there, and in adulthood, is able to pull her out to safety, bit by bit.

Her history is peopled with folks from a different time, a time before therapy was acceptable, 12 steps unimaginable and harsh words, backhands and even harsher silences can be spun to appear almost normal. She writes of a mother who would not or could not initiate love nor give it without condition, and a father, damn near heroic at times, abusive at others, a survivor with his head down and his sleeves rolled up.

Ms. Whittam approaches her past with the clear-eyed tough but sensitive objectivity necessary to untangle the shame from the source. She speaks of the people that affected her life so deeply with an understanding of their time and place in American culture; a family not far removed from immigrant roots when men carried their own water, emoted misplaced anger, and with fresh socks and food found on the trail, were confident, unflinching and at that same time tragical- ly failing to the little ones they ignored.

Like many of us, details notwithstanding, Whittam responded by numbing, running and gunning. Alcohol gave her hope, soothed a crushed soul for a time and wrecked her on a train, until finally she had the courage to accept it wasn’t working for her anymore. It was time to stop drinking and take inventory and accountability. It was time to accept, forgive and move forward. She healed where she was broken.

It is in the telling of this story that Whittam teaches us the difference between just surviving and surviving well, the importance of shared introspection and a careful eye on the wake we leave behind in our actions. Her story is a guide to surviving abuse and addiction. It is also about witnessing and dealing with the shrinking faculties of aging parents in the unavoidable circle of life. Finally, she offers a realistic sense of hope, forgiveness and a life we can shake hands with.

For More Information

  • Am I Going To Be Okay? Weathering the Storm of Mental Illness, Addiction and Grief is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Chapter One

The Driving Lesson

“Am I going to be okay?” It was the summer before I started kindergarten. I had just turned five that June and was sitting in the back seat of our neighbor’s 1961 Buick listening as Gladys tried to teach Mom how to drive. Mom was crying and struggling with the stick shift attempting to drive down a long, lonely stretch of road aptly named Thousand Acre Road. We were about a mile from our house just outside of our village of Delanson, New York, but it seemed as though we were in the middle of nowhere. “Am I going to be okay?” It was the first time I remember hearing those words. It would not be the last.

Mom was 4’ 11”, weighed 105 lbs. and was petrified of being in that driver’s seat. She needed to sit on two large phone books to see over the steering wheel and to reach the pedals even though the long, bench type front seat was pulled as far forward as possible. Gladys, who was a large German woman, was pressed up against the dashboard and now was more ornery than normal. Mom was begging Gladys to stop the driving lessons. She didn’t want to do it anymore.

Am I Going to Be Okay top pickGladys was a part-time nurse at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady and had very little patience. I can’t imagine how she became the choice to teach Mom how to drive but here we were idling on this dirt road waiting for something to happen. Mom continued shaking and crying each time she stalled the car, trying unsuccessfully to get it into first gear. Gladys firmly commanded her to stop crying, let out the clutch, push on the gas, and “drive the goddamn car!” This only caused Mom to escalate into a higher level of panic. She looked over her shoulder at me with tear-filled eyes, pleading for help, “Debbie, am I going to be okay?”

“Yes, Mom,” I said in the most reassuring voice my five-year-old self could come up with. “Isn’t this fun?”

“Oh, for Christ sake, Judy,” Gladys bellowed from the passenger side, “Let your foot off the clutch, push on the goddamn gas and drive!” She didn’t want to remain in that car much longer either. I took in the tension of that scene, wanting to be as calm, clear-headed, and loving as I could be. I knew Gladys’ harsh ways wouldn’t work. Interestingly, most people Mom was surrounded by were like Gladys – Dad, my aunts and uncles, and friends – all impatient with her fears of everything.

“Mom, you are going to be okay,” I encouraged her as I repeatedly jumped up from my seat and leaned over the long, hard ridge along the back of her seat. My stomach ached from balancing on it so I could show her the gears and pedals. There were no seat belts in those days so I was free to see and be a part of the drama unfolding before me.

Mom was in her early twenties when I was born. At this point, five years later, she realized if we waited for my father to drive us anywhere, like to the movies to see Disney’s Cinderella, it wasn’t going to happen. Dad had far more important things to do. He felt his time would be wasted doing something as silly as a movie. She and I were on our own to see the “magical world of Disney” or any of the rest of the world at all. She had never wanted to drive, ever. I remember thinking if I could drive at the age of five, it would’ve been fine with her. Mom’s desire to get out of town for the 25-mile drive to Schenectady motivated her to overcome her anxieties get off the sofa and learn to drive. We were both excited to plan a trip to “the city” for a movie at Proctors theater with lunch at Carl’s Department Store afterward. It was a very high society thing to do back then. Plus what motivated Mom most was my aunts could all drive, and she wanted to keep up with what they were doing.

It was second nature for me, even that early on, to reassure her that everything was going to be okay. The reality was, with Mom at the wheel, we were not okay at all. I was sure from my perch balancing on my stomach that I had a far better view of the road than she did.

Mom was peaceful, calm and content only when she was lying on her right side on the left corner of the sofa. Any plans or action much more than that could cause her anxieties to rise dramatically, sometimes even bringing her to the point of blanking out.

It took every kind of fortitude for Mom to stay in the car and attempt again and again to make it move forward. Her anxieties were equal to a commander of a shuttle about to blast off . This car was way too much for Mom, and she wanted to be at home on her sofa.

Gladys had been our next-door neighbor for three years now, ever since we moved into the three-bedroom ranch home my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles worked hard to build in 1959. She had talked Mom off the ledge many times before this. Once, I got my finger stuck in the front screen door of our house. Mom screamed and ran to Gladys’ house, leaving me stuck in the door. Left there to fend for myself, a pattern that followed throughout my life, I had a twinge of panic that she just might not come back. I jiggled the handle of the metal door and finally got my finger out by myself.

I was crying when Mom and Gladys found me sitting on the front porch sucking on my finger. I wasn’t as upset about the pain of my smashed finger as I was scared and needed my Mom. As the two of them walked across the grass between our houses, there was no more panic in Mom’s eyes. They were giggling and looked like there was some inside joke. Mom looked at me and said, “Oh stop crying. You’re fine.”

She and Gladys went inside the house as I sat there on the cold cement, confused. That didn’t seem very nice. I needed someone to tell ME that everything was going to be okay. I still wanted to be taken care of. It was ever so subtle but the message was clear. It was almost as though I had done something wrong. Shame and subtle ridicule was the sound of Mom’s reassurance. Most problems I encountered in my young life, either physically or emotionally, were either because I had done something wrong, or there was something wrong with me. Those were the choices. Let the ridicule begin.

Cheryl Huber, a Buddhist monk who has a monastery in Northern California, travels sharing experiences of how to meditate, and has written a wonderful, easy-to-read book aptly titled, “There is Nothing Wrong With You.” In this book, she begins with a litany of assaults which many of us heard from our early years that remain with us, intruding on a daily basis, such as: “What is wrong with you? Didn’t I just tell you not to do that? Don’t look at me that way! Stop crying! You are so dumb! Why didn’t you already know that? Who doesn’t know this?” This speaks to our inner self-hate monitor which was at the beginning of a time that we can’t really pinpoint and seems to have no end. It is the time when our self-image, our core beliefs, are planted, nurtured and bear fruit in our anxieties, addictions, and actions.

However, back on that day of the driving lesson, I took in every look on Mom’s face as she struggled through the hell of those moments. Here she was trembling with fear behind the wheel of this monster moving vehicle and enduring being bellowed at by Gladys. “Can we just go home?” she asked. She was finished for the day!

From an early age, I was intensely aware of her every worry, every fear. It became a normal part of my life. I took in every look on Mom’s face, every choking catch in her throat. I wanted to rescue her, help her, and make her fears go away. I wanted to make her happy. Years later, I had more of a love/hate relationship with that part of her, but at the time, her survival was my main concern.

I kept reassuring her, “Mom it’s going to be okay – just let go of that pedal thing, push on that pedal over there and the stick thingy does an H. First, go up on the top – on that side of the H.” I pointed to where she needed to have her hands and feet to make the car move and not stall. I had paid close attention to Dad when he tried to teach Mom to drive many times before. In Dad’s car, Mom needed three phone books and chunks of wood taped to the pedals in order to see over the steering wheel. Dad wouldn’t let her move the seat forward. He refused to be smashed up against the dashboard. My guess is Gladys took over those lessons when things with Dad didn’t go so well. But, at least, I learned. He was my role model for everything, like being strong, courageous and powerful. I wanted to be just like him.

I watched how he did most everything and I still have many of his mannerisms and sayings today. “Shit or get off the pot” is one. It flows right off the tongue. So, in that car with Gladys, it was now my turn to help Mom…to be the one who saved her with kindness and patience. She paid attention to me when I did that.

“Yes, Mom, you are going to be okay.” It was exhausting work to reassure her since these emotional upheavals happened often. I don’t remember hearing her say those things back to me. But, she must have.

Finally, figuring there was no other way out of this mess, Mom shored up the courage from somewhere, managed to push on something right, and the car moved forward without stalling. I softly said, “Yea, Mom!” She turned to look at me, and her body relaxed just a little bit. I was relieved to see her less terrified. Mom was going to be okay, and I was, too.

Mom smiled with pride as she continued driving 20 miles an hour down the road. Then, Gladys said, “Jesus Christ, Judy, you need a five-year-old to get you to push on the goddamn gas.”

Mom did eventually learn how to drive and passed her driver’s test after two attempts. The one and only time she ever got drunk was at the celebration party the neighbors gave her the following weekend. It was as though there was a collective, “ Thank God, the driving lessons are over.”

Mom and Gladys remained good friends until Gladys passed away in 1999 from Multiple Sclerosis. Mom visited her often through her last years bringing baked goods and helping Gladys as best she could, and as much as Gladys would allow.

Mom never touched a cigarette to her own lips denouncing Dad’s smoking as a filthy habit. Yet, she held many a cigarette up to Gladys’ lips when Gladys could no longer maneuver her fingers on her own. These two women were always there to support one another.

Mom continually asked whoever would listen in any given situation, “Am I going to be okay?” It bothered the hell out of all of us. However, when I was that young, being able to help my Mom feel better was one of the first thrills of my life. It was gratifying to hear her say, “Oh, Debbie, thank you. I don’t know what I’d do without you!” In that moment, she needed me.



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