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Chasing Hindy

Title: Chasing Hindy
Author: Darin Gabby
Publisher: Koehler Books
Pages: 284
Genre: Thriller

ADDY’S DREAM AS a patent attorney is to help bring a ground breaking energy technology to the world. Addy’s hopes soar when she is wooed by Quinn, an entrepreneur, to join his company that has purportedly invented a car that can run on water using an innovative catalyst. After resigning her partnership to join Quinn, Addy discovers things aren’t as they seem. The patent office suppresses the company’s patent applications and her life is threatened by unknown assailants if she doesn’t resign.

When she is arrested for stealing US technology from the patent office she realizes Quinn has used her. Now, Addy must find a way to clear her name while salvaging her dream of propelling this technology to the world, all while powerful forces attempt to stop her.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

First Chapter:

ADDY FELT LIKE jumping out of her car and doing a quick happy dance in the middle of stalled traffic. Her excitement at becoming the newest—and youngest—partner at the intellectual property law firm of Wyckoff & Schechter was nearly overwhelming.She grinned at the shadow on the hood of Hindy, her treasured retrofitted cherry red Shelby Mustang. The shadow was created by a barrel-sized, hydrogen-filled balloon that floated above the Mustang’s roof. Gawkers pointed and laughed as the Shelby eased down El Camino pulling the tethered balloon as if in a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The balloon—which on one side sported her law firm’s logo, and on the other Hindy in giant cursive script—was just an advertising gimmick to show her passion for alternative energies. It was only strapped to the roof on calm, sunny days when she was travelling at slow speeds using routes that avoided overpasses. The retrofitted Mustang was really powered by four electric motors using electricity produced by solar panels and a conventional fuel cell.

At first, the Wyckoff partners questioned Addy’s prudence in strapping a floating balloon to the roof of any vehicle, but they’d

come to admire the effectiveness of her marketing innovations. They even lifted their champagne glasses at the end of her mentor’s welcome speech acknowledging that her Shelby was responsible for bringing in increasing numbers of the “green” companies sprouting like weeds all over the Silicon Valley— inventive, entrepreneurial companies in need of legal advice and support for their patents.

While the traffic inched forward, Addy chuckled with excitement. “Hindy, ol’ pal,” she said, patting the dashboard, “you and I are going places now! Next time some overzealous cops accuse you of being a traffic hazard, I’ll stare them down and inform them they’re messing with the partner of a highly prestigious law firm.”

Traffic momentarily loosened and Addy eased Hindy forward, careful not to snap the lines tethering the egg-shaped balloon. Addy sang along with Zissy Spaeth, pop rock’s newest and most flashy star, as Zissy belted out her latest hit, Light in Your Eyes, over the radio. In the corner of her eye she noticed a blaze of neon orange.

Her heart stopped. In the car next to her someone was pointing a bazooka-sized gizmo at her balloon. She blinked, trying to clear her vision.

A flare shot out, aimed straight at her floating ball of

hydrogen.

Even in the late afternoon sunlight, it was impossible to miss the explosion. The dirigible burst into a giant fireball, then slowly deflated and floated down toward the Shelby’s crimson hood.

Addy stomped on her brakes, hoping the balloon’s momentum would shoot the flaming mass forward. The fireball, safely secured by its fluorescent yellow nylon tethers, crashed down onto the windshield, blocking Addy’s view. She screeched to a halt, slammed her shoulder into the door, flung it open, and darted out, catching the heel of her pump on the doorjamb, which sent her sprawling headlong onto the pavement.

She heard tires squeal and at least a half dozen blaring horns. Stinging pain shot up from her elbow and knees. Thank goodness traffic had been just inching along.

Ignoring the pain, she bolted forward, arms raised, ready

to yank the still-burning fabric off the windshield. Before she got close enough to grab it, the sweltering heat from the flames scorched her cheeks, and she shielded her eyes with her forearm. Just when she reached the hood, a breeze lifted the infernal blob and propelled it directly at her, the nylon cords now seared through.

She braced herself for the fireball when she felt arms wrap around her chest and yank her back, barely in time to avoid the searing molten mass of goo about to descend on her head, threatening to fry her face and melt her hair.

“Are you crazy? What are you thinking?” a deep voice

bellowed in her ear, still holding her tight.

Together they watched what was left of the blimp float like a falling leaf onto the grassy shoulder, just like the Hindenburg did almost eighty years ago.

“Someone clearly doesn’t like you, short stuff,” her rescuer said, now standing next to her stroking his goatee, his face hidden behind dark sunglasses and a low-riding Dodgers cap. “More like out to get you. That was some kind of flare the driver shot at your blimp. I tried to spot his license plate, but it was covered up. Snapped a picture with my phone, though,” the man said fishing it from his pocket. “You can kind of see a tattoo on his forearm. The police will love this.”

Before she could thank him, someone cried out, “Call a fire

truck! The grass!”

Brush fires in California were no joking matter. Addy could smell the smoldering grasses. A strong breeze fanned the flames, pushing the fire toward a row of redwood trees.

Then she heard a whiny voice coming from the milling crowd of stranded passengers who’d gathered to find out what was holding up their homeward commute. “I’ve seen that blimp before. I knew it was trouble,” the whiner complained.

“Yeah, but at least she’s part of the solution,” said someone else. “Her car doesn’t use gasoline. Look at what you’re driving,” he said, sneering at the whiny woman’s crossover SUV.

Addy’s knees buckled, her head spinning. She plopped down onto the pavement and hugged her bare legs. This couldn’t be happening.

Why would someone try to destroy her car? Hindy, her

 

beloved Mustang, was just a marketing ploy, no worse than a billboard. Hindy’s fuel cell and solar panels were just two modern technologies that Addy hoped someday would become mainstream to the automotive industry. And her purpose was noble. Her “green” car told the world of inventors that she was one of them, that she would secure their patents and protect their investments. Now her expensive marketing project was in jeopardy.

Soon, swarms of firefighters were scrambling around dousing the flames, while police officers attempted to reroute traffic. A well-built bald man flipped out a paper pad and scribbled a few notes. After removing his sunglasses, he swapped the pad for a pocket camera and snapped random shots of the avid crowd.

All four local networks had sent news crews, and Addy knew two of the reporters. They had already run stories about Hindy, praising Addy’s creative marketing, which one reporter said was a refreshing change from the barrage of personal injury commercials littering daytime television.

As Addy told the reporter during her interview, Silicon Valley was going to be known, not just for starting the computer revolution and launching the social networking scene, but now for making the world green. And Addy was their lawyer.

Reality burst her daydream bubble when she was whisked aside by a team of Sunnyvale police officers. She told them what had transpired, hoping it would help them find the sniper. And she pointed out her rescuer, who was showing another pair of police officers the photo on his phone.

At the end of the interview, one of the officers handed her a ticket. “You were carrying a flammable substance without a permit. You’ll need to make a court appearance.”

Addy gasped. “But they shot at me.”

“And we’re not taking it lightly. There’s been a serious crime committed here, but that doesn’t mean you can break the law. If you hadn’t been toting that blimp, none of this would have happened.”

Addy’s eyes narrowed. “Am I’m free to go?” she said,

snatching the paperwork and turning toward Hindy.

“Yes,” the officer said, “but we’re going to need to impound

your vehicle.”

Addy halted. “Hindy? You can’t.”

The other officer beckoned with both hands, big gestures, as if directing an airplane to the gate. A tow truck wedged its way through the onlookers and began backing up in front of Hindy. “But Hindy works perfectly fine,” Addy protested. “The balloon, that was all for show. The hydrogen for the fuel cell is

where the gas tank used to be.”

The officer shook her head. “We need your car for evidence. As I said, a serious crime has just been committed, and we need to take the vehicle to the station for a thorough evaluation.”

“But I need to get home, and get to work tomorrow.”

“There’s always Uber,” said the officer with a shrug.

 

About the Author

Darin Gibby

In addition to a thriving career as a novelist, author Darin Gibby is also one of the country’s premiere patent attorneys and a partner at the prestigious firm of Kilpatrick Townsend (www.kilpatricktownsend.com). With over twenty years of experience in obtaining patents on hundreds of inventions from the latest drug delivery systems to life-saving cardiac equipment, he has built IP portfolios for numerous Fortune 500 companies. In addition to securing patents, Gibby helps clients enforce and license their patents around the world, and he has monetized patents on a range of products.

Darin’s first book, Why Has America Stopped Inventing?, explored the critical issue of America’s broken patent system. His second book, The Vintage Club, tells the story of a group of the world’s wealthiest men who are chasing a legend about a wine that can make you live forever. His third book, Gil, is about a high school coach who discovers that he can pitch with deadly speed and is given an offer to play with the Rockies during a player’s strike. Gil soon discovers, however, that his unexpected gift is the result of a rare disease, and continuing to pitch may hasten his own death.

With a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and a Master of Business Administration degree, he is highly regarded in Denver’s legal and business community as a patent strategist, business manager, and community leader. He is also a sought-after speaker on IP issues at businesses, colleges and technology forums, where he demonstrates the value of patents using simple lessons from working on products such as Crocs shoes, Izzo golf straps and Trek bicycles.

An avid traveler and accomplished triathlete, Darin also enjoys back country fly-fishing trips and skiing in the Rocky Mountains. He lives in Denver with his wife, Robin, and their four children.

His latest book is the thriller, Chasing Hindy.

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bruce-forcieaBruce Forciea is known for taking complex scientific concepts and making them easy to understand through engaging stories and simple explanations. He is an Amazon Best Selling Author and author of several books on healing and biology, along with science fiction thriller novels. His fiction writing draws on a diverse and eclectic background that includes touring and performing with a professional show, designing digital circuits, treating thousands of patients, and teaching. His stories include complex plots with unexpected twists and turns, quirky characters, and a reality very similar to our own. Dr. Forciea lives in Wisconsin and loves writing during the solitude of the long Northern winters.

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About the Book:

A brilliant artificial intelligence (AI) scientist, Dr. Alan Boyd, develops a new program that integrates part of his brain with a computer’s operating system. The program, Alan 2, can anticipate a user’s needs and automatically alan-2perform many tasks. A large software company, International Microsystems (IM) desperately wants the program and tempts Dr. Boyd with huge sums of money, but when Dr. Boyd refuses their offer, IM sabotages his job, leaving him in a difficult financial situation.

Dr. Boyd turns to Alan 2 for an answer to his financial problems, and Alan 2 develops plan Alpha, which is a cyber robin hood scheme to rob from rich corporations via a credit card scam.

Alan and his girlfriend Kaitlin travel to Mexico where they live the good life funded by plan Alpha, but the FBI cybercrime division has discovered part of Alan 2’s cyber escapades, and two agents, Rachel and Stu, trace the crime through the TOR network and Bitcoin.

Alan 2 discovers the FBI is on to them and advises Alan and Kaitlin to change locations. A dramatic chase ensues taking them to St. Thomas, a cruise ship bound for Spain, and finally to Morocco.

Will they escape detection? They will if Alan 2’s Plan Beta can be implemented in time. Or is ‘Plan B’ something altogether different than it appears to be, something wholly sinister that will affect the entire population of the world?

Watch the trailer at YouTube!

Purchase Information:

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Would you call yourself a born writer?

I would call myself a born dreamer who later developed the skills for writing.

What was your inspiration for Alan 2?

Alan 2 had a number of sources of inspiration. I consider myself a geeky guy with roots in the digital revolution of the 1980’s. So inspiration comes from my early work in engineering working for a defense contractor combined with my science background and love of science fiction. Hey, I was weaned on the black and white flickering images of The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits with a lot of Saturday afternoon science fiction movies thrown in.

For Alan 2, I wondered if all of this data collected from medical scans could be combined with software to produce a sophisticated artificial intelligence program. If so, then how would the program react to humans and our behaviors?

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I love themes like quantum connectedness, self-destruction due to personality problems, and opening Pandora’s box.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

For me, the process takes about a year from conducting the preliminary research to writing the first draft to editing the manuscript for submission to a publisher.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I’m disciplined when I begin a project and tend to work in intense burst of activity. I’m not the kind of writer who sits down and writes so many words every day. Hey, I have a day job and family to support!

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Alan 2 pretty much flowed from start to finish. For me, the most challenging part of the process is doing edits, especially near the end when I have to read it one more time to look for errors. I really find that difficult and want to move on to something else.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love getting the various stories rumbling around in my brain on paper and actually seeing them in print.

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 went with a small publisher, Open Books, who offered me a contract on my first novel, The X-Cure. I’ve also been with a mid-sized publisher for a non-fiction book I wrote about 10 years ago and have self-published some ebooks.

I am happy with Open Books and really feel they are a partner in helping me to achieve my goals as a writer.

Where can we find you on the web?

My website:

https://www.drbruceforciea.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrBruceForciea

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorbruceforciea/

 

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Shelley Schanfield’s passion for Buddhism and yoga arose sixteen years ago, when she and her son earned black belts in Tae Kwon Do. The links between the martial arts and Buddhist techniques to calm and focus the mind fascinated her. By profession a librarian, Shelley plunged into research about the time, place, and spiritual traditions that 2500 years ago produced Prince Siddhartha, who became the Buddha. Yoga, in some form, has a role in all of these traditions. Its transformational teachings soon prompted Shelley to hang up her black belt and begin a yoga practice that she follows to this day.

Because she loves historical fiction, Shelley looked for a good novel about the Buddha. When she didn’t find one that satisfied her, she decided to write her own novels based on the spiritual struggles of women in the Buddha’s time. She published the first book in the Sadhana Trilogy, The Tigress and the Yogi, in 2016 and will publish the second, The Mountain Goddess in early 2017.

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About the Book:

A beautiful warrior princess. A tormented prince. A terrible choice between love, duty, and spiritual freedom.

In ancient India, rebellious Dhara runs away to a sacred mountain to study with the powerful yogi Mala, a mysterious woman with a violent past. Flung by war onto an adventure-filled journey, Dhara meets and captures the heart of Siddhartha, whose skill in the martial arts and extraordinary mental powers equal her own.

Worldly power and pleasure seduce Dhara, creating a chasm between her and her husband, who longs to follow a sage’s solitary path. She takes on the warrior’s role Siddhartha does not want, and when she returns wounded from battle court intrigue drives them further apart. As Siddhartha’s discontent with royal life intensifies, Dhara’s guru Mala, who has returned to her life as a ruthless outlaw, seeks her former pupil for her own evil purposes.

Dhara’s and Siddhartha’s love keeps evil at bay, but their son’s birth brings on a spiritual crisis for the prince.  If he leaves his kingdom to seek enlightenment, he turns his back on love and duty and risks destroying his people. Only Dhara can convince him to stay.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

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Would you call yourself a born writer?

I’ve always loved books (I’m a librarian by profession) and I’ve always loved writing—not only the joy of putting words together to form ideas and stories, but also the physical act of making beautiful, inky dark, cursive letters on a pure white, lined sheet of paper.  But I didn’t discover my true calling as a novelist until after I’d married, raised two kids, and had a successful career. What inspired me to write fiction? On to your next question.

What was your inspiration for THE MOUNTAIN GODDESS?

I’m a Midwestern girl born and raised, but the world’s mythologies and religions have always fascinated me. Growing up, a legend about how the Buddha healed a young woman whose grief over her son’s death had driven her mad resonated deeply, as my oldest sister suffered a devastating illness and my parents’ anguish was plain. Over the years, I learned more about the Buddha’s teachings, and they gave me strength in dark times. I’m an avid reader of historical fiction, and I looked for a good novel about Siddhartha, the handsome Indian prince who gave up wife and son and wealth and power to seek an end to humanity’s suffering and became the Buddha. When I couldn’t find one that satisfied me, I decided to write my own. While doing my research into his time and place (2500 years ago in northeastern India), I was drawn to the story of his wife, who stayed behind with their newborn son when he left on his quest for enlightenment. The Mountain Goddess, Book II in a trilogy about the women of the Buddha’s time, tells her story. (Click here for information on Book I.)

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I write about the choices women face when they pursue their own goals, whether they seek power or passion or spiritual freedom.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

It took sixteen years to write the first two books in my trilogy about women of the Buddha’s time. Yup, 16, one-six. Most of that spent learning the writer’s craft, at the same time as researching ancient India, all while caring for children and parents and working and pursuing a black belt in Tae Kwon Do as well as my own yoga and meditation practices. All time well spent, IMHO when reviews say readers find the books engrossing, mesmerizing, and moving.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

When I’m in full fiction-writing mode, I will get up at 2 or 3 a.m. and write until 5 or 6 in the morning.  This is the best time to write new scenes. My day job and family responsibilities keep me busy during normal working hours, but still I can find time for editing. And anytime an idea strikes, I jot down notes in Evernote or in a spiral notebook that is my constant companion.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

My books fall in the genre of historical fantasy, which like historical fiction requires a great deal of research, and any writer will tell you it’s an incredible challenge to keep facts about time and place and character back-story from clogging up the narrative.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love sitting with pen in hand or with my laptop (using Scrivener for my manuscripts) in the early morning when no one else is awake, and feeling story pour through me onto the page. In its own way, writing is a powerful meditation practice.

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 had an agent for about a year but when we parted ways I decided to self publish. I’m president, CFO, senior editor, and best-selling author at Lake House Books! Which means I did it all: filing for an LCCN, copyright, getting Cataloging in Publication (PCIP) information, bought my own ISBNs. I found a great book designer at Streetlight Graphics. Along with my local book manufacturer, Thomson Shore, they gave me a gorgeous print-on-demand paperback for both Book I and Book II of my trilogy. Streetlight did the beautiful formatting for e-books, too. For Book I, I used Draft-2-Digital for e-book distributors and uploaded directly to Amazon’s Kindle. For my second, I’m exploring a new e-book service, Pronoun.

Where can we find you on the web?

Shelleyschanfield.com

Twitter: @seschanfield

Facebook

Pinterest page

Goodreads author page

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The Ashes

Title: THE ASHES
Author: Vincent Zandri
Publisher: Bear Media
Pages: 277
Genre: Thriller/Horror/Romantic Suspense

HORROR IN THE DARK WOODS

It’s been eight years since artist and single mom, Rebecca Underhill, was abducted and left to die in an old broken down house located in the middle of the dark woods. But even if her abductor, Joseph William Whalen, has since been killed, another, more insidious evil is once more out to get her in the form of the Skinner. The son of an abusive butcher, Skinner intends on finishing the job Whalen started but failed at.

How is he going to get to Rebecca?

He’s going to do it through her children, by luring them into the cornfield behind the old farmhouse they live in.

HORROR IN THE DEPTHS

Now, armed with the knowledge that the Skinner has escaped incarceration at a downstate facility for the criminally insane, Rebecca must face the most horrifying challenge of her adult life: Rescuing the children not from a house in the woods, but from the abandoned tunnels that run underneath her property.

But the Skinner is watching Rebecca’s every move.

Horrifying question is, will she live long enough to save the children?

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon

The Ashes teaser

First Chapter

October 2016Albany, NY

“How long have you been hearing the voices coming from the cornfield, Mike?”

The man speaking is a child psychologist by the name of Dr. Robert Cuther, an aging, semi-retired child psychiatrist who’s come highly recommended to me by my best friend, housemate, and blonde bombshell co-conspirator at the The School of Art, Robyn Painter (her real name, no pun). So the story goes, Cuther has been conducting therapy on Robyn’s eight year old daughter, Molly (named after my late twin sister), after we found her hiding in a second floor closet of the farmhouse that our two half-families share. The little blonde-haired, blue eyed clone of her mom had convinced herself the Boogeyman lived in our basement (he doesn’t, we checked) and that any day now he was going to abduct her and drag her down into his underground lair.

Truth is, I’m not sure what to expect from the man who, with his thick, curly gray hair, short stature, wrinkly pale face, and old wool suit over black turtleneck, looks more like an over-the-hill Einstein than Freud. But I’m beginning to worry more and more about Michael Jr. and the voices he claims to be hearing, and speaking to Dr. Cuther seems like the reasonable solution. He’s also agreed to see us on a quiet Sunday morning so as not to interrupt school and work schedules, which makes him not only reasonable, but convenient.

“Go ahead and answer the Doctor, Boo,” I say, sitting across from the perch he occupies on a long leather couch. “Dr. Cuther is our friend.”

Little Mike peers at me with his smooth round face, little pug nose, thick head of dark brown hair that even at eight year’s old sports a lock that hangs down over his long forehead, just like his late dad. Sometimes, when he looks directly into my eyes with his big brown pools, I feel like I’m not only seeing his father, but that I’m once more looking into my ex-husband’s soul.

“He’s not gonna give me any shots, is he, Ma?” Mike says, his short blue-jeaned legs hanging off the couch, his blue Converse sneakered feet in constant motion, like he’s jogging in place.

Cuther laughs. It’s a genuine laugh. The kind of laugh a grandfather would make after a little boy made a joke about his gray hair or about the strange way his lips don’t move much when he talks. As though at his age, it takes a grand effort to make facial expressions.

“No shots here, young man,” Cuther says. “When you come here, you do only fun stuff.”

“Oh yeah?” Mike says, folding his hands in his lap. “Like what?”

“Well, for one,” Cuther goes on, “your mom tells me you are already quite the accomplished artist. That you can even hand draw a person’s face without having to trace it. That’s quite the rare talent you have there.” Then, his eyes shifting to me. “You must take after your mom.”

“Michael Senior…that’s my dad…he’s a writer,” Mike says.

Cuther’s forehead scrunches. “And who is Michael Senior?”

“I just told you, silly. He’s my dad. He’s dead.”

The mere mention of my ex-husband, Michael, and the word dead still throws a cold jolt up and down my spine. It also makes my stomach cramp, even more so than it has been of late.

“Tell me something, young man,” Cuther goes on. “Why do you call him by his real name, and why do you refer to him in the present tense?”

My boy turns to me. “What’s peasant tents mean, mom?”

Me, giggling, but somehow feeling the effects of anxiety kicking in. Aren’t I here to relieve anxiety?

“It means, Boo, that you refer to your dad like he’s still alive…still with us.”

I sometimes refer to Mike as Boo, just to differentiate him from his father, and not to remind myself of my long gone ex every time I utter his name.

“But he is,” Mike says. “Sort of, anyway. I just saw him out by the cornfield this morning.”

My son’s admission hits me upside the head. I’m well aware of the voices he hears coming from the cornfield. Voices I can only assume he’s making up with his overactive imagination. But seeing his father out by the cornfield is a new one on me.

A few beats pass before Cuther once more raises the question: “Mike, my boy, when did you first start hearing the voices?”

“It’s not voices really,” he says.

“Not voices?”

“Well, I guess it’s voices. Or, like a voice anyway.”

“Can you explain more for me?” Cuther goes on, his deep brown eyes shifting from Mike to me and back again.

“It’s music, Dr. Cuther. It comes to me thorough the corn.”

The psychiatrist shoots me another quick glance.

“Can you tell your mom and me what this music sounds like, Mike?”

He nods. “I don’t have a very good voice. But I can try singing it.”

“You’re very brave, Mike,” Cuther says.

“Okay, here goes.” The boy sits up straight, his legs and feet suddenly very stiff and very still. “Ring around the Rosie, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”

Yet another glance from Cuther.

He says, “Is this the first time you’ve ever heard that song before, Mike?”

The boy shakes his head, starts moving those legs again.

“Nah,” he says. “We used to sing it in kindergarten. It was a game. The teacher would make us kids make a circle. We’d sing the song about ringing around Rosie, and then as soon as we said the last word–”

“—Down!” Dr. Cuther interjects, his voice booming, despite those stiff lips.

“That’s right,” Mike says with a smile, delighted to have something in common with Dr. Cuther. “Did you play this game too, Doctor?”

The psychiatrist nods. “Of course. Believe it or not, young man, I was a boy once myself. A long, long time ago. Before cable television even.”

My son steals a moment to digest this information, like it’s impossible for him to imagine the short, gray-haired, old man has been anything other than what he is at this very moment in time.

“Well, as soon as we sing the last word, down,” Mike continues, “the last person to fall down was punished.”

Another cold jolt shoots up and down my spine. “What do you mean punished, Boo?”

He giggles. “Oh nothing bad, mom. Mrs. Carter…that was my teacher…would make us do an arithmetic problem on the board. Or maybe spell a word. We were all it after a while. It was a lot of fun. You know, for school anyway.”

Cuther nods.

“Mike,” he says, “I promised you we’d have some fun also. So how about you draw me a picture of what you see out by the cornfield. Can you do that? In the meantime, I’ll have a talk with mom.”

Mike slips off the couch. “Sure, swell.”

Dr. Cuther leads my son to smaller room located off his office that’s outfitted with art supplies and kid-sized tables. He sets Mike up with some construction paper and crayons, then closes the door, just a little. When he comes back inside, he sits back down behind his desk and sighs heavily.

“Ms. Underhill,” he says. “I think we need to have a serious conversation about your boy.”

Meet the Author

Vincent Zandri

Winner of the 2015 PWA Shamus Award and the 2015 ITW Thriller Award for Best Original Paperback Novel, Vincent Zandri is the NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, and AMAZON KINDLE No.1 bestselling author of more than 25 novels including THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT WEEPS, EVERYTHING BURNS, and ORCHARD GROVE. He is also the author of numerous Amazon bestselling digital shorts, PATHOLOGICAL, TRUE STORIES and MOONLIGHT MAFIA among them. Harlan Coben has described THE INNOCENT (formerly As Catch Can) as “…gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting,” while the New York Post called it “Sensational…Masterful…Brilliant!” Zandri’s list of domestic publishers include Delacorte, Dell, Down & Out Books, Thomas & Mercer and Polis Books, while his foreign publisher is Meme Publishers of Milan and Paris. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated in the Dutch, Russian, French, Italian, and Japanese. Recently, Zandri was the subject of a major feature by the New York Times. He has also made appearances on Bloomberg TV and FOX news. In December 2014, Suspense Magazine named Zandri’s, THE SHROUD KEY, as one of the “Best Books of 2014.” Recently, Suspense Magazine selected WHEN SHADOWS COME as one of the “Best Books of 2016”. A freelance photo-journalist and the author of the popular “lit blog,” The Vincent Zandri Vox, Zandri has written for Living Ready Magazine, RT, New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, The Times Union (Albany), Game & Fish Magazine, and many more. He lives in New York and Florence, Italy.

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steve-dunn-hansonI’ve lived in places that grew me . . . from a small Idaho farm town, a run-down neighborhood in St. Louis, and a middle-class southern California community, to Sydney, Australia, and Bucharest, Romania. My experiences are as varied as the places I’ve lived. I have a hopper full of “reality” including being a volunteer jail chaplain and flying with a U.S. presidential candidate in his small plane when an engine conked out. And all of this is fodder for my writing.

My latest book is the action/adventure/suspense novel, Sealed Up.

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About the Book:

The Da Vinci Code unsettles. SEALED UP shakes to the core!

UCLA anthropologist Nathan Hill, in a funk since his young wife’s death, learns of staggering millennia-old chronicles sealed up somewhere in a Mesoamerica cliff. This bombshell rocks him out of his gloom, and he leads a sealed-upclandestine expedition to uncover them. What are they? Who put them there? No one knows. But, self-absorbed televangelist Brother Luke, who funds the expedition, thinks he does. If he’s right, his power-hunger will have off-the-charts gratification.

Striking Audra Chang joins Nathan in his pursuit and brings her own shocking secret. As they struggle through a literal jungle of puzzles and dead ends, she finds herself falling in love with Nathan. Her secret, though, may make that a non-starter.

When a shaman with a thirst for human sacrifice, and a murderous Mexican drug lord with a mysterious connection to Brother Luke emerge, the expedition appears doomed. Yet Nathan is convinced that fate—or something—demands these inscrutable chronicles be unearthed.

And if they are . . . what shattering disruption will they unleash?

Intricately layered and remarkably researched, this enthralling suspense-driven and thought provoking tour de force begs a startling question: Could it happen?

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon

Would you call yourself a born writer?

If I am, I didn’t discover that for a few decades! In my earlier life, writing had as much appeal to me as going to the dentist. However, over time, I have discovered I have a penchant for writing—maybe even a talent. In any case, writing is what I do now.

What was your inspiration for Sealed Up?

The idea for my novel came to me some seven or eight years ago. Where did I come up with the idea? Actually, to say anything about that would be to give away too much of the plot and the conclusion. I will say, it has the potential to be controversial in the vein of The DaVinci Code.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

Change! What do people do when they are confronted with external events that have the potential to turn their own lives inside out?

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

It’s been five years in the writing. Much of this time was spent in research. I wanted every aspect of it to be completely authentic.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I’m disciplined—with a lapse here and there. I don’t let writing rule me though, and I don’t set aside a certain amount of time to write on a specific project each day. I am retired, and I can use as much of my time writing as I want, but I’m also heavily involved with church, family, and other pursuits. Furthermore, at any one time I have several writing projects I’m working on including my books and my website with blogs, poetry, and my photography. I don’t mean to imply that my writing is not regular. It is. I do it virtually every day. I’m just not locked into a set amount of time.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Just about everything. Since the book is so unique, I found myself plowing new ground almost constantly. Research was exceptionally time consuming because of my desire to make it completely real. The characters took on a life of their own, and I spent uncounted hours trying to look through each of their eyes. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges was putting in the absolutely necessary backstory in a way that didn’t kill the suspense-pull of the book. Some people who were looking for a thrill-a-second in the book thought that made the book drag. Most who have read it, however, (it has a 4.3 rating on Amazon), are very satisfied with how I did that.

What do you love most about being an author?

There is nothing that quite equals the creating of something beautiful, meaningful, and true.

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?

My first books years ago were traditionally published, but this one, Sealed Up, is self-published. I probably would have gone traditional with this one, if I could have found an agent that fit. As it turns out, I went the right way. I’ve learned a ton in the process, and my book is doing very well. The downside is the time it is taking to “do everything.” That’s slowed the writing of my next book in the series, but that’s okay.

Where can we find you on the web?

Please visit my website at: http://stevedunnhanson.com/

 

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Howard Jay Smith is an award-winning writer from Santa Barbara, California. BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139 is his third book. A former Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts Fellow, & Bread Loaf Writers Conference Scholar, he taught for many years in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and has lectured nationally. His short stories, articles and photographs have appeared in the Washington Post, Horizon Magazine, the Journal of the Writers Guild of America, the Ojai Quarterly, and numerous literary and trade publications. While an executive at ABC Television, Embassy TV, and Academy Home Entertainment, he worked on numerous film, television, radio, and commercial projects. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Symphony – “The Best Small City Symphony in America” –  and is a member of the American Beethoven Society.

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Would you call yourself a born writer?

Yes.  My very first short story about piloting a Cessna – about half a page long – was written when I was in elementary school.  And I got my first rave reviews!

I wrote all though High School and college, everything from the school paper to newspapers.  Even myy Master’s thesis was a draft of a novel about the social upheavals of the late 60’s and an accompanying teaching guide.

In my mid 20’s I was fortunate enough to be accepted as a Scholar several times into Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf Conference where I met the late novelist, John Gardner.  John became my mentor and over the next few years I returned to Bread Loaf as a scholar a total of three times. There I worked with other greats of that era, John Irving, Toni Morrison and Tim O’Brien. I also studied with John back in DC and Virginia. Gardner was hands down the best teacher I have ever had for any subject ever.  It was through my work with him that I found my essential voice and truly began my career as a writer.

My first book John Gardner: An Interview was published way back in 1979 by the now defunct New London Press. The best surprise was walking into a bookstore in Middlebury, Vermont, one summer and seeing it on the shelves and for sale.  Wow!

I was a three time winner of the Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts Fellowships. My short stories, articles and photographs have appeared in the Washington Post, Horizon Magazine, the Journal of the Writers Guild of America, the Ojai Quarterly, and numerous literary and trade publications.

After publishing a dozen or so short stories in literary magazines, I headed west to what I imagined were the greener pastures of Hollywood and screenplay writing. I was a top writing Fellow at the American Film Institute.  After graduation from that program I worked as a Film and Television executive at ABC-TV, Embassy TV and Academy Home Entertainment while also beginning a career as a screenwriter. I wrote over thirty screenplays and worked on numerous film, television, radio, and commercial projects.

Much of my career work has been related to not only writing, but business and finance. I have always been described as one of those “Left Brain – Right Brain,” kind of guys who goes back and forth between these two worlds.

The publisher of my second, Opening the Doors to Hollywood, was Random House. It was a non-fiction work based on film and writing classes I taught at UCLA.  We had great distribution through bookstores nationally and it was again, a great kick to walk into a bookstore and to not only find it on the shelves but to also be asked for autographs.  That book sold in excess of fifteen-thousand copies but the profits were all gobbled up by Random House in shipping and distribution costs.

My experience in both finance and writing about musicians led me to the Santa Barbara Symphony – “The Best Small City Symphony in America,” – where I now serve on the Executive Board of Directors and head up their Development and Planned Giving Committees.

What was your inspiration for Beethoven in Love; Opus 139?

When I came across the story of Beethoven’s death — how at his last moment a bolt of lightning strikes the side of his building, rousing him from a coma; his eyes open, he sits up right, he shakes his fist at the heavens and then collapses back to the bed and is abruptly gone — I found the contrast to my own near death experience stunning.

When I was not yet twenty-one and going to school overseas in Singapore, I had a severe motorcycle accident. As my body somersaulted through the intersection, time stopped and a great and profound sense of peace and tranquility suffused my consciousness.  Fear, especially that fear of death we all share, disappeared.  My biggest surprise was landing very much alive – and in pain – on the other side of the crossroads and not the “other side” of life.

Beethoven’s death throes were so different from my calm transition.  That led me to wonder what it would have taken for this great man to come to peace with all the turmoil and failings of his life – and there were many.  In that nugget of a thought, Beethoven in Love; Opus 139, was born. Although those injuries still ache decades later – especially when it rains – researching and then writing this novel was an absolute joy.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

As one of the characters Beethoven encounters on the road to paradise proudly proclaims, “What is a novel but a collection of lies we tell to reveal greater truths?”

As a working professional writer, screenwriter, teacher and TV executive for almost four decades, I am always on the lookout for great stories of historical figures where my potential protagonist wrestles with the same types of profound emotional or psychological issues that each and every one of us can relate to in our own lives.

For all his creative genius, Beethoven was a flawed man who led a troubled life.  In my novel we explore the depths of that love and pain.  At the moment of his death, in his last seconds of conscious, Beethoven raised his fist and shook it at his Creator.  Did he demand to know why it is, that he, whose hearing once surpassed all others in sensitivity and degree had been cast out as history’s cruel joke, a deaf composer who was also denied the comforts of family and the affections of his Immortal Beloved?

In that last tick of the clock, our Beethoven pleads with Providence to grant him one final wish… One day, just one day of pure joy in her arms.   Thus begins a spiritual journey to the borders of Elysium, where Beethoven re-experience each of those precious moments. He struggles to come to peace not only with all the failings of his life but to also to find solace in the embrace of his Immortal Beloved.  Will he succeed?

“Your love makes me at once both the happiest and the unhappiest of men. . . Love me today, yesterday . . . . What tearful longings for you, you, you. My life, my all. Farewell. Never cease to love me. Never misjudge this most faithful heart of your beloved. Ever yours . . . Ever mine . . . Ever ours. . . .”

Thus concludes one of the most famous love notes in history; Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” letter written to a mysterious and as yet unknown woman. Not only did he fail to address her by name, he further baffled music historians by simply dating the letter, July 7th, leaving off the year. Outside of Beethoven’s actual music, there is more speculation about the women in his life than anything else.

So who was this woman, this Immortal Beloved, that has been the focus of such fevered study in the nearly 190 years since his death in 1827, when a copy of the letter was found in his apartment by accident alone?

Will we ever know her true identity and give this woman her due?  Was she a married aristocrat with whom he had an affair? Or a childhood sweetheart he longed to see once again? Or was she even the mother of a child he never knew?

Speculation is rife, even today, when the descendants of over a dozen women, including the dedicatee of the “Moonlight Sonata,” claim him as their own.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Researching and then writing this novel was a five year long journey, every moment of which was an absolute pleasure.  I learned ages ago that if you want someone to take the time and effort to read your book and find your work compelling and engaging, you must also be equally passionate about what you create. I absolutely love the entire process of crafting a story, from jotting down ideas and doing research when necessary, to shaping each line, each paragraph, each character, each scene. I want to transport the reader into a vivid and continuous dream that is so powerful, so all-encompassing that the next thing they know is that someone is calling them to dinner. So my first advice to any other would be writer is this: love what you are doing and let that passion be your motor or you will most-likely fail.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I find it very easy to write – provided I have something to say – which is not always the case. As a lifelong writer I have learned many things about myself.  The first of which is that I am always thinking about writing – and that is important.  I often see the world around me in terms of story.  True writing is the expression of concrete ideas about the nature of our lives and the spaces in the world we inhabit.  The second lesson is that one doesn’t always have to have a focus or a particular thought about what to say.  That’s dream time and dream time is critical to allowing ones creativity to jell.

Even in the middle of a long project, a screenplay or a novel, I spend a fair amount of time just visualizing and reflecting on what it is I want to say, how I want to say it, what it will look and feel like when it’s written and how will it come off to a reader. I will often try to work on an idea as I am falling asleep, trusting my instincts so much so that when I wake I know the essential idea will be there.

When I actually sit at my desk and write, I can go for hours – provided again, I know what I am going to say.  I put on music – relevant if possible to what I am working on – and use it to mask the outside world. I will go on until I’m exhausted and drained.

I am also about getting in the rhythm of what I am doing. If I am in the middle of a book, I will usually go backwards to a somewhat more polished chapter and do a bit of reading and re-writing until I go to the new section.  I will work on the new section until drained.  I shut down then and then resume the dream time process.  While contemplating the next section I am equally at home working in the garden, chopping wood or going for a walk.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Shaping the novel out of such a full and rich life had little resemblance to my initial notion of finding the blank spaces in his life and creating a fully woven fiction. Instead it was more like chipping away at a giant block of marble to find the essence of his life.

My initial thought upon coming up with this notion about Beethoven being forced to review the failings of his life by his “Ghost of Christmas Past,” before he could pass on to Elysium or paradise, was to read a single biography, find the empty or white spaces in his life that we did not know much about and then create a totally fictional story. After reading one biography, I quickly grasped that scholars and musicians knew and had preserved a staggering amount of information about Beethoven, so much so that there were few blank spaces to fill in. If I was going to do a novel about such a famous man, I realized that I was going to have to research that life fully and make sure everything I wrote was as accurate as possible.

My personal dilemma was this: All of my mentors from my early years as a writer, John Irving, Tim O’Brien, Toni Morrison and the late John Gardner, all won National Book Awards or some similar accolade.  When I committed myself to doing a Beethoven novel, I knew there were two hurdles I had to overcome in order to be successful. First I would need to thoroughly research everything about his life and times and be exceedingly accurate or risk being shredded by historians and critics in the music world.  Given the enormous amount of material on his life, including dozens of major biographies, six volumes of letters as well as his diaries – not to mention his music – I was initially daunted by the scope and size of what I had taken on.  I decided not to proceed unless the quality of the writing line by line was at a level that those mentors would have approved.

Feeling the weight of their teachings upon me, I committed myself to doing everything necessary to research not only Beethoven’s life, but the life and times of his family, friends, and lovers and of the entire Napoleonic era, no matter how long it took. And then and only then would I write a novel based on that research that could stand up to the weight of any critic or criticism.

I spent nearly two full years researching before writing a single word of fiction. I built a chronological outline that ran over two hundred pages itself. I read all the major biographies; all the volumes of letters to and from Beethoven; I read his diaries and first-hand accounts of his life compiled by his friends. I listened to endless hours of his music. I studied the history of the times, from Voltaire and the French Revolution to the spas of Central Europe and the life of Napoleon – whose ghost plays a central role in the novel.

I read each book at least three times: the first to get a general sense of its content; the second to highlight specific notes (don’t even ask how many yellow highlighters or sticky notes I went through); and the third to transfer key information to my outline. If Beethoven or Napoleon referenced a philosophical text, such as the Bhagavad Gita or the works of Confucius, I would read those as well. I had majored in Asian Studies as an undergrad, so that aspect came easily to me. I should note that the influence of Asian philosophy on Beethoven is unmistakable if one reads his diaries and letters, yet it is one area that musicologists generally miss not having any exposure to Eastern thought. His quotes go right over their heads.

Furthermore every character except for three minor but important ones, is an actual historical figure. I researched them as well.  And of those minor characters, one is inspired by my friendship with the now deceased novelist, John Gardner, and the other two are an homage to my own family’s East European history that I stumbled upon doing my research. I even learned that Napoleon, on his retreat from Moscow, passed through a tiny village in Belarus, the village my maternal grandparents are from, and that critical events in the war took place there.

Shaping the novel out of such a full and rich life had little resemblance to my initial notion of finding the blank spaces in his life and creating a fully woven fiction. Instead it was more like chipping away at a giant block of marble to find the essence of his life.

When I was nearly done with a first polished draft, I began showing it around to my friends in the writing community and to a one, their response was, “Yes, you’re there.”  Since that time, the reviews from critics in the literary world, the music world and more specifically, the world of Beethoven scholars and devotees has been wonderful – and gratifying. In fact my first public reading was for a gathering of Beethoven scholars at the American Beethoven Society’s Thirtieth Anniversary Conference.  There I was, reading a work of fiction to the very people who knew more about Beethoven than anyone, and, thankfully, they loved it.

What do you love most about being an author?

Researching and then writing this novel was a long journey, every moment of which was an absolute pleasure.  I learned ages ago that if you want someone to take the time and effort to read your book and find your work compelling and engaging, you must also be equally passionate about what you create. I absolutely love the entire process of crafting a story, from jotting down ideas and doing research when necessary, to shaping each line, each paragraph, each character, each scene. I want to transport the reader into a vivid and continuous dream that is so powerful, so all-encompassing that the next thing they know is that someone is calling them to dinner. So my first advice to any other would be writer is this: love what you are doing and let that passion be your motor or you will most-likely fail.

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?

My friend and fellow writer, Russell Martin, author of the non-fiction bestseller, Beethoven’s Hair, also runs a small independent press, SYQ.  The publisher of my previous book, Opening the Doors to Hollywood, was Random House. It was however not only a non-fiction work based on film and writing classes I taught at UCLA, it was also a long time ago.  After a number of attempts to reach out to literary agents and other publishers, I realized that the publishing world had vastly changed since Opening the Doors to Hollywood was released.  Every agent I spoke with wanted either a celebrity driven piece or an easily commoditized book of 250 pages.  Beethoven in Love; Opus 139 is neither. I ultimately decided to go with SYQ and found the process much more to my liking.  I was involved and had control over every aspect of the process, including the layout, design and cover.  I should add that the cover art was done by my son, Zak Smith, a well-known artist in his own right with five published books and paintings hanging in eight museums around the world.

The first five years I spent researching and writing “Beethoven In Love; Opus 139,” were clearly the creative side.  Once done though I switched gears and treated the printing, marketing and sales of the book as a business proposition.  What good is it if you write a great novel but no one reads it?  I focused on marketing and treated the costs and time spent as one would a business start-up, imagining that it would take a while to recoup those expenses.

Clearly publishing and bookselling are industries that has been radically transformed by the web. Once I committed to a small press, I knew we had to maximize the use of electronic mediums to generate real business.  The old models didn’t work and I don’t think anyone has figured out the very best methods to deal with the new reality just yet.  Understanding that world remains a work in progress.

Recalling my experience with Random House where the profits were gobbled up by shipping, SYQ and I decided to limit sales to online outlets such as Amazon.  We created a large web and Facebook presence and then hired a publicist to promote the book to national newspapers and radio stations.  In the first few months following the release I did a lot of public readings and interviews on radio, in print, on podcasts and through the web.

One of the beauties of a book about Beethoven is that I was able to target diverse markets through Facebook. We focused not only the world of book readers and clubs but also to the music world and have had a fair amount of success in both those realms.

I have also performed in numbers of classical music venues in conjunction with soloists, small ensembles and even a full orchestra and choir.  The musicians would perform Beethoven’s compositions and I would read related selections from the book. In fact my first public reading was for a gathering of Beethoven scholars at the American Beethoven Society’s Thirtieth Anniversary Conference.  There I was, reading a work of fiction to the very people who knew more about Beethoven than anyone, and, thankfully, they loved it.

Now I not only have a following of devoted fans all over the world, I have also made a number of connections with the descendants of some of the true-life characters in the novel, such as the great grandson five generations removed of the woman, Giulietta Guicciardi, to whom Beethoven dedicated the Moonlight Sonata and is one of the women consider as a candidate to be his mysterious Immortal Beloved.

All of these activities feed into daily Facebook posts and Tweets and those in turn have driven sales.

Not everything however has gone as smoothly as desired. There are no road maps yet in what is still uncharted territory. For the better part of the past year, I have often felt like I am being forced to re-invent the wheel. My first publicist was a very traditional book publicist from Hollywood who has a client list of many famous writers – but in this new reality she was of limited actual help and very expensive.  I have since moved on to a publicist from the 21st century who understands the web and the results have been vastly superior.

In the end, though I have sold fewer copies than when I was with Random House, my personal return on investment has been much greater. Once a book is actually printed or put out electronically, one must be committed to spending both the time and dollars necessary on marketing. You can’t do it half way and expect good results.  It takes total commitment and effort.

Where can we find you on the web?

I have a webpage:  www.BeethovenInLoveOpus139.com

A dedicated Facebook Page for the book:  https://www.facebook.com/BeethovenInLoveOpus139/

And a Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/BeethovenOp139

 

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We invite you to Tamara Lakomy’s THE SHADOW CRUCIBLE: THE BLIND GOD Book Blast! Please leave a comment to let Tamara know you stopped by or share this page through your social networks!

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Title: THE SHADOW CRUCIBLE: THE BLIND GOD

Author: T.M. Lakomy

Publisher: Select Books

Pages: 400

Genre: Dark Fantasy

In a world where angels, demons, and gods fight over the possession of mortal souls, two conflicted pawns are ensnared in a cruel game. The enigmatic seer Estella finds herself thrown together with Count Mikhail, a dogmatic Templar dedicated to subjugating her kind. But when a corrupted cardinal and puppet king begin a systematic genocide of her people, the two become unlikely allies.

Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All organized religions are shops orchestrated to consume mankind. Every deity, religion, and spiritual guide has been corrupted, and each claims to have the monopoly on truth and salvation.

In a perilous game where the truth is distorted and meddling ancient deities converge to partake of the unseen battle, Estella unwittingly finds herself hunted by Lucifer. Traversing the edge of hell’s precipice, Estella and Mikhail are reduced to mere instruments. Their only means to overcome is through courting the Threefold Death, the ancient ritual of apotheosis—of man becoming God.

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Book Excerpt:

He seethed with indignation as he confronted his reflection. Rasping with rage and flexing his fingers impotently, he took in his bruised and broken face. This mirror was the only vanity he was allowed, and now it only offered him the stark knowledge of his ugliness and weakness. Livid, he smote the mirror with his fist. It shattered as he let out an incensed cry, the fragments flying across the floor, glittering sharply in the dimming lights. He looked down at the collage of broken glass and paused, numb with anger.

The shards of the mirror glittered and vibrated, reflecting numerous eyes. Then they slowly began to levitate, all the tiny fragments splintered across the room gathering together and reforming. Swiftly they became whole again, and the mirror floated in the air eerily toward the cardinal. Within the reflection he no longer saw himself, but another being gazing back at him. Lost for breath, he gaped in bewilderment, unable to form words. The being had the fairest of all faces. Beautiful, with an aura of inexorable grace, it had resplendent, shimmering wings—pair upon pair of them in varied iridescent hues. The countenance observed him with a soft smile, measuring him with his intoxicating, lucent blue eyes. “Do you know who I am, old man?” the mirror asked him blithely. The cardinal was immediately enraptured, but could feel the cross burning on his neck. “Take it off and it will not sear your skin,” the angel remarked mildly, his limpid blue eyes gazing lovingly upon the cardinal. The cardinal, like a man too deeply drunken to think, brought his hand to his neck and ripped the cross thoughtlessly off and cast it away. “That is better now, isn’t it? Always bearing the cross. Well, he carried his cross and now he wants the whole world to carry it with him . . . how truly selfish.” The voice, though laced with reproach, was heartrendingly sweet and full of understanding and promise. It rang like silver bells. The cardinal’s mouth hung open indecorously, and he found himself nodding his head in agreement with the angel’s words as his fear began to dissipate. “I do not want you to carry this cross, this heavy burden of debt,” the angel continued. “This false salvation you were peddled is a lie. I, on the contrary, want you to be free, liberated from your thralldom. The earth is your inheritance to rule over as a god, like you were promised. And yet they have deprived you of your freedom. My heart grieves for you,” the angel sympathized, his voice laden with unquenchable sorrow. As the angel spoke, the mirror began to ripple like molten silver, and he emerged from it, as though pushing through a translucent shroud. Robed in white flowing garments, he grasped a long spear in his left hand pointing it downwards, the bitter tip glistening coldly. Standing before the cardinal revealed in his full glory, he smiled fully—but the warmth never reached his detached, frosted gaze. “I want to liberate you from your thralldom,” he said. “I have watched over you all, my tender flock. I am Lucifer, the morning star, the first to greet you with my love into this life, and the last to claim you on my dark stallion of death. I have come to free you.” His persuasive voice was soothing and nurturing, like a gentle river rippling mildly over soft bedrock. The cardinal found himself in a daze of awe, and within him woke his longing for power and lust for dominion. “Come to me, let me free you, and we shall destroy the Twilit world that has robbed you of the gifts that you so deserved.” The fatherly voice of the angel was indignant yet gentle, and he beamed at the cardinal who nodded back eagerly. “Let me into your heart, then. Lead me into your house, in this false edifice erected in the name of God, and let us together find the lost sheep in the house of God. I am his true son, after all, prince of the world.” He glided towards the cardinal, his numerous nacre wings extending into the chamber. They shed their own pearly light, and it seemed he floated like a silver vision. The angel knelt beside the cardinal, gazing into his watery eyes. “Let me into his house.” The voice was slightly more pressing now. The cardinal, dazed, nodded in agreement. With a satisfied smile, the angel touched the cardinal’s chest with a slender finger, right at his heart, and breathed over him. The cardinal groaned, falling instantly asleep. The angel then shifted like a blurring image, colors melting and running, twisting like molten glass into a murky mess of shadow and dirt-colored fumes. The gleaming wings fell to the ground, losing their feathers and rotting instantly. Now instead of the radiant angel, there stood a hooded and cloaked figure, emanating death. Like a black hole, it sucked in all the light around him, exerting a fearsome pull. The light from the candles swirled and were drawn into him, as though he were a gasping sinkhole.

The lights that weren’t drowned out flared in his presence, then guttered as he walked towards the discarded cross lying dully on the ground. With his foot he trampled it into the ground. Then the lights went out and laughter resounded. It echoed through the abbey walls, shaking it to its foundations until all the lights within went out, and all the icons fell to the ground, dashed down by something far more sinister than the raging gale outside.

About the Author

tamara-lakomy

Tamara Lakomy is British born but grew up in North Africa during troubled times. She resides in London.

She studied archaeology and became enamoured with the shamanistic practices of indigenous people.

She is an author and poet who seeks to challenge our notions of reality, and see life with a different perspective.

She works in East Africa with indigenous tribes studying the origins of mankind and the salient golden thread in the tapestry of humanity’s beliefs.

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