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Archive for the ‘Virtual Book Tour Guests’ Category

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

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

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

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About the Book:

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

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

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

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Would you call yourself a born writer?

Yes! But in all honesty, it wasn’t until the seventh grade. That’s when I wrote a 57-page short story for an English assignment. The goal was for to fill out 1 page. Maybe 2. I wrote 57. Well, that was an excellent exercise in which a young 12-year-old realizes he is destined to be an author. It was a self-realization.

What was your inspiration for Dominion?

I asked myself the question, what if the colonization of the Moon brought about the need for a space rescue team, and that rescue team practiced unique skills that were honed by psychological means. Could that be the birth of a sort of Jedi Knights? Now, my guys (and gals) are called the Jungi Knights after the great psychoanalyst Carl Jung, so although there’s a resemblance, it’s purely coincidental.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I typically go for big themes like saving the planet, saving human-kind, or saving a group of people from certain death. It’s the bad guys I find interesting. Why do they do such things? I try to explore the darker sides of the human psyche.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

I thought I was finished after a year, but it took two and a half years. I added 20,000 words and a big finish.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I try to write at least 30 minutes a day. What happens is, though, when I sit down to write, I get very much into my writing and will go on for hours and hours. I write every day. I’m very disciplined about that.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

I introduce the Process Map of Consciousness in Dominion and the hardest part was not getting too preachy or didactic. The Process Map has very much helped me out in my day-to-day activities and I wanted to share with others so they could benefit from the work I’ve done.

What do you love most about being an author?

The act of writing itself. I’d either die or go nuts if I didn’t write.

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 small press. I came close to getting a literary agent for this book, and I think an agent is necessary for getting signed with any sizeable publisher. And so I went with a small press, Double Dragon. They’ve been very professional.

Where can we find you on the web?

www.StinkyUniverse.com

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kali-kuceraKali Kucera is an American lorist and short story writer living in Quito, Ecuador, where he also rides and writes about bus and train travel. Since he was 9 years old he has been composing plays, operas, short stories, and multi-disciplinary experiences. He has been both a teacher and performer as well as an arts mobilizer, and founded the Tacoma Poet Laureate competition in 2008.

His latest book is the mythical realism novel, Unawqi, Hunter of the Sun.

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Would you call yourself a born writer?

Yes, I would, but the writing took different forms.  I started writing songs at nine years old, then poetry, then songs with poetry, then somewhere in adolescence that spread out to short stories in verse, which became musicals and plays and operas by sixteen….you know, kind of like wisteria, you have to watch it or it will grow all over everything.

What was your inspiration for Unawqi?

unawqi-hunter-of-the-sun-by-kali-kuceraUnawqi had two beginnings, like trails in two separate forests that merged together in an open plain that was more or less the a-ha moment.

The first inspiration came while sitting on the front porch of my good friend Thomas Merton Brightman at his retreat center near Hampstead, Maryland. It was a beautiful morning looking out over the rolling hills, but there was something odd standing right in front of me that I couldn’t look past: a dead tree in whose limbs were resting a bunch of freshly picked sunflowers.  It was such a striking thing, I couldn’t help bring it up to Thomas.  He responded in his usual soothing and philosophical manner. “Oh yes, old man with sunflowers in his arms.”  That phrase was so beautifully packed with symbolic meaning, it unleashed a trove of instant and profound creativity deep within me that would stay with me and with my pen for a very long time, and out of that pen came the questions about why an old man would have sunflowers in his arms; what melancholy was his backstory (dead tree) and why did he cling to the contrast of something so bold and beautiful (sunflowers)?

The second strand of inspiration answered my first set of questions in an existential way. In 2011 my fiancé from Colombia, Julio Garcia, rather suddenly took his own life. Like everyone else, I was at first stunned and looked for empirical answers as to what was ‘the news’ that brought this about.  I was looking for the forensic answers that would leave no doubt so we could all bury him in our minds and move on with life.  That was until the very character of that search bothered me, and I realized any answers found would not be adequate, nor do any justice to his life.  I came to believe he took his own life because its beauty so clashed with the suffering he lived with from his birth and could not separate himself from.  I believed his story is what made him beautiful, and it was richly complex, adventurous, magical, and needed to be told in a way that suited the largeness of who he was. Julio was a different prism of both the dead tree and the alive sunflowers, but he had the trajectory of life events that filled in the backstory. 

So the two inspirations merged over time, but as I base my writing in the recovery of ancient folklore and mythical realism, the way the story unfolded took a distinctive mythological form and drew upon equally magical places I have lived, in Tacoma, Washington, and in the Andes of South America.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

The intertwining of nature and humanity, and how there is danger and love between them at all times.  This is the constant theme of mythology that I stay close to in my own writing.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Somewhere around five years, but because I’m a writer of lore, smaller stories within the bigger story were done and told along the way.  The smaller stories tell me and teach me what the bigger story is going to be.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

Well, disciplined is a judgment I’ll leave for others to decide, but I will say I have a routine. Sundays are writing days.  I love to go to church in the morning just to hear the old stories and epic themes in such short powerful sentences. Then I do a lot of walking, thinking over past chapters I’ve written, talking them through in my mind, seeing what kind of emotion they invoke. Yes, sometimes I’ll be sobbing on the sidewalk for no apparent reason that others can perceive, but they are invigorating sobs, they springboard me into settling down in some café or on my back patio under the shadow of Cayambe. And there I sit with some coffee…maybe from which comes nothing, but then maybe comes a lot.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

It was the moment after I thought I was finished writing it. I read it through again, wanting to congratulate myself and move on, and instead ended up with a pit in my stomach feeling sadly that it was not done, but didn’t at that moment know what was missing.  Eventually that passed, but it was a terrible feeling of being surprisingly stuck.  At least in all the moments previous, it was much clearer I wasn’t finished.

What do you love most about being an author?

Making the unreal real, I guess. There’s also the aspect that words, once written, have immense lasting power.  They outlast you, they come back to you when nothing else will.

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 done a full circle from self-publishing, to pursuing traditional publishing, and then coming back to self-publishing. I learned along the way of pursuing publishers how far they have gone into the gutter and it’s basically impossible to get considered by anyone serious, and in direct contrast, how the self-publishing option has increased the quality and respectability of its own game over the past five years.

Where can we find you on the web?

http://papakali.com

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

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

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

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Book Excerpt:

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

About the Author
denison-hatch

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

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http://www.pumpupyourbook.com

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

 

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

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

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

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Book Excerpt from FIRE AND SWORD:

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

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

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Join us for H. Peter Alesso’s CAPTAIN HAWKINS Book Blast today! Please leave a comment to let him know you stopped by!
Title:
Captain Hawkins
Author: H. Peter Alesso
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 207
Genre: Science Fiction
Jamie Hawkins was living on an obscure planet in the twenty third-century when on one fateful night—his life changed forever. His heroic effort to save the lives of innocent women and children, caught in the cross-fire of war,
placed him squarely in the crosshairs of avenging soldiers.
A former marine, Hawkins was stunned when his rescue effort was seen as treachery. Unfairly convicted of treason by a corrupt judge, he was sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor on an infamous penal colony.
Once in prison, his courage and perseverance won him the admiration and trust of his fellow convicts. While he was plotting his escape, an enemy attacked the planet–giving this daring warrior his chance. Together with his fellow prisoners, he launched a bold assault and high-jacked an enemy warship.
From then on, the rebel ship Indefatigable, engaged in multiple ship-to-ship and fleet actions until the exploits of Captain Jamie Hawkins became legendary.

PURCHASE:

Amazon

Book Excerpt:

The black of night had fallen, but Jamie Hawkins couldn’t sleep. Though the surgeons had patched up his many wounds, the remorseless pain persisted, even now, months after his medical discharge from the Marines.
BAM! BAM! BAM!
Despite his desire to ignore the unwelcomed thundering blows, he answered the door to his country home and found his neighbor, tall scrawny seventeen year old Joshua Morgan, gasping for breath.
“Captain Hawkins, come quick! Come quick, or they’ll all be killed!”
“Who? What are you talking about, Joshua?”
“I’ve just come from the city—it’s a war zone. People are dying,” Joshua’s voice broke. “The hospital is taking care of the wounded and sheltering women and children, but its force shield is buckling.” He finished in a breathless rush, “It’s only a matter of minutes before it fails.”
A troubled frown creased Hawkins’s face. Their mothers had been friends and he had known Joshua since he was born.
Has the boy been drawn into the turmoil? He wondered.
Hawkins had listened to the broadcasts throughout the day, absurd in every detail; demonstrators declared that they were only protesting injustice, while the government insisted the violence was a last resort against rebels.
Which is the greater lie?
I told one of the doctors, I knew someone who could help. My flyer’s right outside, sir. You must come,” begged Joshua, his expressive eyes pleading.
A more kindhearted man, who possessed his insight, might have agonized over what was happening in the capital city, but though Hawkins was not unsympathetic, past adversity had left him more hardboiled and cynical than most.
“That’s not my concern anymore,” he said.
Joshua’s desperate voice squealed, “You’re a veteran. You could make a difference, sir.”
Hawkins put his hand on his hips, threw his head back, and barked, “Ha!”
Then, giving vent to a deep inner passion, he demanded, “What difference can one man make?”
As a Marine, Hawkins had been a hot-blooded warrior, always quick to action, so at this moment of great upheaval, while frenzied violence was playing out in the capital, he surprised himself with his reluctance to act. As he ran his hand over the long jagged scar that marred his chest, one thing was certain, the foolish mutinous passions of the people could only lead to ruin.
But the look that spread across the boy’s face was indescribable—it was as if he had just lost his hero.
“Alright, if you won’t come, at least tell me how to maintain the shield,” said Joshua, showing a daring and persistence beyond his years. “I’ll go back alone, but you must tell me what to do.”
“You have no idea what you’d be getting yourself into. All hell has broken loose. Can’t you see, you can’t contribute anything worthwhile, and most likely something terrible will happen?
“I must go back, my mother is a volunteer at the hospital,” said Joshua. Throwing back his shoulders with a determined jerk of his chin, he challenged Hawkins’s jaded gaze, pleading, “Please. Tell me how to fix the shield.”
Hawkins opened his mouth, but the words froze on his lips. The boy’s courage was a splash of cold water in his face, stinging his sense of honor. It wasn’t in his nature to send this boy to certain deathfor Joshua could never accomplish what had to be donenor it was in his makeup to let innocents be condemned to death with the hospital’s destruction.
A gritty resolve washed over Hawkins. He said, “Let’s go.”
***
Wearing a brown pilot jacket, tanned rawhide trousers with knee-high leather boots, calfskin gloves, and goggles, Hawkins skillfully maneuvered the single seat flyer at breakneck speed. Joshua desperately clung to him to stay on the back of the motorcycle-like vehicle–his arms wrapped tightly around Hawkins’s waist.
What they saw was a madhouse–Newport was ablaze with savage fires that lit up the horizon–scores of them. Just hours before it had been a vibrant city, the capital of Jaxon, renowned for its culture and history, thriving with
business and commerce, home to over a million inhabitants going about their ordinary daily lives, now it was a battlefield.
Though his home was a mere two dozen kilometers outside the city, it was impossible for him to fly directly there. There were several sharp mountain peaks in their way, one tremendous one, flanked by two smaller ones, causing
Hawkins to race the engine of single-seat turbojet to gain altitude. The noise and vibration of the straining sputtering engine roared into the dark rainy night until they were able to ascend to three thousand meters.
When they reached the outskirts of the city, they descended to a hundred meters, but skyscrapers rose in their path causing them to fly directly over a paved highway that connected the planet’s capital to the suburbs. It was swollen with traffic–pedestrians, motorcycles, trucks and cars–choking the road. There were people of every description; disheveled housewives and construction workers, unskilled laborers and local tradesmen, reeking hobos and sharply dressed businessmen, young and old, men and women alike, all seeking safety. Some carried cherished possessions while others brandished antiquated bullet guns, since the government had already confiscated most laser and plasma
weapons. This crowded mass of human unhappiness snaked its way along its ill-chosen path intent on escaping the terrifying violence.
Is Joshua’s mom in that mob? Hawkins wondered.
Those remaining in the city suffered under a shower of high explosive aerial bombs intermixed with artillery shells. With sirens wailing, Hawkins saw bombers overhead dropping death from the skies and heard the repeated firing of artillery in the distance. He couldn’t tell who was doing the shooting.
After his initial reluctance to come, he agonized over whether he would arrive in time. A nearly impenetrable wall of smoke, flame, debris, and explosions added extra heart wrenching minutes to the journey.
Every two minutes a new wave of jets would be overhead and a new barrage of artillery shells would join in. The roaring fires pulsed, like the blind fury of an agitated buzzing beehive. Little fires grew into big ones, right before his eyes. Big ones died down under the valor of firemen, only to break out again a few moments later.
Hawkins saw the panic in the street. The city’s civil-defense included shelters that were now overflowing with refugees. Many had left their homes and defied the flames to run to the bomb shelters distributed throughout the city, only to find there was no room for them. In addition to the death and injury, everywhere there was evidence of psychological trauma–children sat in rubble–their dead parent’s bodies nearby. It was impossible to gauge how much more the citizens could take. Panic and raw nerves grew tighter with each passing minute. The people prayed for a respite–but there was little hope for mercy on this night.
Hawkins heard the crackling of the closest flames and the screams of victims and firemen, alike. Smoke blurred his vision and seared his lungs.
Nevertheless, he kept going with Joshua clinging to his waist.
“Arf! Arf!” choked Joshua.
“Here cover your mouth with this handkerchief,” yelled Hawkins over the uproar around them.
EEEEEEERRRR!!!
The sirens wailed.
Hawkins cursed.
“Oh, no,” said Joshua. “Are we too late?”
“We’re almost there,” said Hawkins.
They heard detonations high in the air. The sky was alive with a deadly dance of destruction.
BOOM!
Then another–
BOOM!
Farther down the street, Hawkins could see soldiers breaking through the defensive ring of some diehard demonstrators, sending them fleeing in every direction. He couldn’t quite make out what the people were yelling, but he could see one oversized banner fall to the ground.
It read, “Beware the Wrath to Come!”

 

 

About the Author

 

As ascientist and author specializing in technology innovation, H. Peter Alesso has over twenty years research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL he led a team of scientists and engineers in innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers, workstations, and networks. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and served in the U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines before completing an M.S. and an advanced Engineering Degree at M.I.T. He has published several software titles and numerous scientific journal and conference articles, and he is the author/co-author of ten books.

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beethoven-in-love

Title: BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139
Author: Howard Jay Smith
Publisher: SYQ
Pages: 385
Genre: Literary Fiction/Biographical Fiction

At the moment of his death, Ludwig van Beethoven pleads with Providence to grant him a final wish—one day, just a single day of pure joy. But first he must confront the many failings in his life, so the great composer and exceedingly complex man begins an odyssey into the netherworld of his past life led by a spirit guide who certainly seems to be Napoleon, who died six years before. This ghost of the former emperor, whom the historical Beethoven both revered and despised, struggles to compel the composer to confront the ugliness as well as the beauty and accomplishments of his past.

As Beethoven ultimately faces the realities of his just-ended life, we encounter the women who loved and inspired him. In their own voices, we discover their Beethoven—a lover with whom they savor the profound beauty and passion of his creations. And it’s in the arms of his beloveds that he comes to terms with the meaning of his life and experiences the moment of true joy he has always sought.

Purchase Information:

Amazon

First Chapter

Prologue:

The Death of Beethoven

Vienna, 5:00 pm, March 26, 1827

Outside Beethoven’s rooms at the Schwarzspanierhaus, a fresh measure of snow from a late season thunderstorm muffles the chimes of St. Stephens Cathedral as they ring out the hours for the old city.

Ein, Zwei, Drei, Vier… Funf Uhr. Five O’clock.

Beethoven, three months past his fifty-sixth birthday, lies in a coma, as he has now for two nights, his body bound by the betrayal of an illness whose only virtue was that it proved incurable and would, thankfully, be his last. Though his chest muscles and his lungs wrestle like giants against the approaching blackness, his breathing is so labored that the death rattle can be heard over the grumblings of the heavens throughout his apartment.

Muss es sein? Must it be? Ja, es muss sein. Beethoven is dying. From on high, the Gods vent their grief at his imminent passing and hurl a spear of lightening at Vienna.

Their jagged bolt of electricity explodes outside the frost covered windows of the Schwarzspanierhaus with a clap of thunder so violent it startles the composer to consciousness.

Beethoven’s eyes open, glassy, unfocused. He looks upward – only the Gods know what he sees, if anything. He raises his right hand, a hand that has graced a thousand sonatas, and clenches his fist for perhaps the last time. His arm trembles as if railing against the heavens. Tears flood his eyes.

His arm falls back to the bed… His eyelids close… And then he is gone…

Chapter One:

Plaudite, Amici, Comoedia Finite Est

Applaud My Friends, the Comedy is Over

By all accounts my funeral was a grand success.

Despite the snow and slush soaking through their shoes, all Vienna turns out. Twenty thousand mourners or more, accompanied by the Imperial Guards, guide the grieving to my grave. Streets crowded, impassable. My coffin, lined with silk, covered in flowers, rolls through the chaos on a horse drawn bier. Paupers and princes; merchants and mendicants; menials and musicians; clerics and commoners; they all come for this, their Beethoven’s final concerto.

As if they ever owned me or my music…

Plaudite, Amici, Comoedia Finite Est. Applaud my friends, the comedy are over. Inscribed herein rests my final opus.

Ja. Yes, they are all patrons and lovers… Lovers of my music, the very music the gods have forbidden me to hear. How cruel. To suffer my last decade without sound – any sound except the incessant surge of blood pounding through my veins – an eternity inscribed on the calendar pages of my life.

And so it is, these celebrants, anxious for one last encore, crowd the alleys and streets of the Hapsburgs capital in throngs not seen since the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte and the French Grande Armee oh so many years ago.

The cortege rolls on past the taverns and cafés of this fair city where dark beer, schnitzel and sausages reward the day. Ah, the saints and sinners of Vienna have always loved a good party, never mind the excuse.

Are they singing? Alle Menschen werden Brüder. All men will become brothers. They must be, yet I hear nothing.

I wonder if she is among them. My muse; my love; my passion; my sacred fire; will she be there to safeguard my voyage through Elysium?

Or is she too denied me as was the sweet sighs of love and the embrace of family stolen by gods capricious and uncaring? Are they so vengeful? So embittered by spite? Like Prometheus, have I dared too close to revelations reserved for them alone?

The clouds grow ever darker, ominous.

Must I embrace death silently ere my last symphony suffuses the stage? Is this my end? To be cast out as by our Creator as history’s cruel joke, a deaf musician? A composer unable to know the vibrancy of his own scores?

Tell me why your Beethoven, your servant whose hearing once surpassed all others in sensitivity and degree, must suffer such humiliation and torment?

Are the crowds laughing? Ja oder nein? Yes or no. I know not. Am I such a failure, such a disgrace to be shoved off the stage without your mercy or compassion?

As surely as the warmth of summer vanishes and the leaves of autumn crumble beneath the crush of winter, has all hope been stolen? Can I escape this fate? What path must I travel? What tasks of redemption are to be mine and mine alone?

Come death; am I to meet your shadow with courage? Must I depart in this winter of anguish before the renewal of spring?

Can I not find release from this cycle of sufferings like a saint or a Hindoo holy man following the dance of Shiva or a Bodhisattva, back bent upon the path of the great Buddha?

The last echoes of joy inside my heart are already fading. Will I never hear or feel those vibrations again? Never? Nein. Forever. Lost for eternity in the fog on the road to Elysium; that is too hard, too harsh.

But surely a loving father must dwell in the starry canopy above. Are you there, oh sweet Isis, my goddess of compassion? Help me, help guide me.

Please Providence; grant me this, my final wish… Grant but one day, just one day, one day of pure joy to your poor Beethoven.

Is this too much to ask before I embrace darkness forever? Oh, to be in her arms once again.

About the Author

howard-j-smith-2

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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wanna-besTitle: WANNA-BE’S
Author: Mark Connelly
Publisher: Mark Connelly Productions
Pages: 188
Genre: Literary Fiction/Humor/Satire

With his new girlfriend – a soccer mom with a taste for bondage – urging him to “go condo,” failed screenwriter Winfield Payton needs cash. Accepting a job offer from a college friend, he becomes the lone white employee of a black S&L. As the firm’s token white, he poses as a Mafioso to intimidate skittish investors and woos a wealthy cougar to keep the firm afloat. Figure-skating between the worlds of white and black, gay and straight, male and female, Jew and Gentile, Yuppie and militant, Payton flies higher and higher until the inevitable crash. . .

For More Information

  • Wanna-be’s is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

First Chapter

INSIGNIFICANT OTHERS

 

Winfield Payton awoke to a mother’s voice.  Not his mother—but someone’s mother. It was the commanding yet compassionate voice mothers develop, stern but apprehensive.  It was a voice rarely heard in Downer Estates, a brick apartment complex housing the usual collection of upscale “singles” who live within Frisbee range of urban universities, attend jazz concerts in the park, practice safe sex, drive alphabet cars (BMWs, SUVs, VWs), cybersex on company laptops, faithfully recycle Perrier bottles, and sip low-cal cappuccino in Starbucks while checking the fates of their mutual funds.

            It was a suburban voice, a beach voice, a picnic voice.  The voice of a concerned mother directing her brood.  “Now, look, Brandy, I told you before.  Mommy will be home in just a little while.  You can have cereal.  Where is Heather?  OK, tell Heather to give you some raisin bran.  Take your vitamin.  And don’t go near the pool until I get back. Do you understand? Don’t go swimming until Mommy comes home.”

As yet Win had not opened his eyes; he was too exhausted. Confronting daylight would be painful. Feeling the sun warm his naked back, he buried his face in the pillows.  For a moment he imagined he was at Bradford Beach, snoozing while mommies and kiddies trooped over him, sprinkling his blanket with sand and popsicle drippings.

But no, he was in bed.  His bed.  His fingers felt the familiar smooth lacquered headboard. The pillow bore the scent of Old Spice, his cologne—mundane but reliable.

Home. He turned his aching neck. This simple movement triggered intracranial alarms. Now everything hurt.  His head throbbed. His neck tightened. His back ached. Streaks of raw flesh burned across his chest and thighs.

Oh!  His body bore the imprint of what his clouded mind failed to recall. Opening an eye to the sun, he saw a gleaming bottle of Absolut on the bedside table.  The bottle was nearly empty.  Oh!  A ceramic ashtray held the twisted remains of weedy joints.  Oh!  Two broken poppers lay on the carpet.  Oh!  Leaning over, he saw—amid the tangled debris of his clothes—three lipstick-stained balls of Kleenex, each containing a spent condom.  Oh!

Rolling over, Win groaned, feeling like a crash victim.  The female voice in the other room called out to him.  No longer the mommy voice, it was the supportive, deferential, eager-to-please voice of a Sixties sitcom wife.  Mary Tyler Moore exuding “Oh, Rob!” compassion. “Do you want Motrin?” she asked, “I’m making coffee.”  He heard the sounds of housewife bustling in his bachelor kitchen.

“Motrin,” he croaked, like a wounded GI begging for morphine. Motrin, hell. He needed intensive care. IV’s.  Oxygen. And Band-Aids. Sitting up, blinking in the sun-light, Win noted the thin, blood-lined scratches and nicks across his chest and thighs. Steve McQueen tangled by barbed wire in The Great Escape.

“Here, baby.”

The woman standing in the doorway bore no relation to the voice flowing with flight attendant charm.  Despite the black eye makeup, false eyelashes, and hooker-red lipstick, she was clearly pretty. Her sensibly short blonde hair was cutely, boyishly cut. It complemented the husband-bought Mother’s Day earrings. No doubt she had been trying to look like Debra Harry since fifth grade.

Below the chin she was decidedly dissimilar.  Her neck was gripped by a two-inch leather choker studded with steel points. Metal chains led to a leather corset which maximized her cleavage and girdled her waist with tight belts and more chains. Handcuffs dangled over a thigh encased in torn fishnet. Her wrists and ankles sported matching leather cuffs.

Instinctively, Win drew back.  Only her soft voice re-minded him that he was not in mortal danger.

“Oh, baby, look at those scratches.  I’m so sorry!  I for-get about these nails.”  She wiggled the fingers of her right hand, their dagger-like points flashing blood-red in the sun-light.  Her left palm cupped three red caplets.

He took the pills, then, reaching for a water glass accidentally gulped three and half ounces of Absolut.  God!

“Oh, honey!”

Sitting up, Win rubbed his eyes and brushed his unruly hair.  The woman sat on the edge of the bed and began un-buckling her cuffs, dropping them into a black leather shoulder bag.

“Mind if I take a quick shower?  I have to get home to the kids.”

“Go ahead, Barbie.”  Barbie.  Gratefully her name came back to him. She disappeared into the guest bath. The architects of Downer Estates had thoughtfully equipped each two-bedroom apartment with two full baths.  Single tenants and their partners of choice could shower at the same time, going through their customary after-sex hygienic rituals in private.  Alone in the main bath, Win gargled with Scope, doused his sore member with hydrogen peroxide, then drew a bath.

 

Sitting in the steaming water, he felt his muscles un-wind. Since his thirty-seventh birthday, a loosening morn-ing bath had become a necessity before he could take a shower and actually wash. Rubbing his neck, Win heard water running in the next room.  The grip of alcohol fading, the night’s events played over in his mind.

Win had naively assumed that one had to call an escort service, troll BDSM dating sites, or stalk FetLife profiles to locate someone like Barbie Monreal. It seemed highly un-likely to run into a woman with her tastes at a real estate seminar.

Normally, Win avoided attractive professional women with wedding rings—unless he met them in a singles bar.  A real estate seminar held in the student union of his own college was an improbable place to get lucky. Money rather than lust was on his mind that afternoon. He accepted Barbie’s Century 21 card gracefully enough and was pre-pared to move onto the next booth when she suggested a rendezvous at Henri’s for drinks.

Barbie Monreal reminded him of Doris Day in Please Don’t Eat the Daisies.  Attractive.  Cute.  But too domesticated to arouse any libidinous interests—until her third white wine spritzer, when, suitably lubricated, she calmly announced her motives.

“Now that the kids are older, and I have some time, I’d like to get back into psychodrama.”

“Acting?” Win asked naively.

“In a way,” she smiled, giving him a patronizing nod.  “Role play.  Fantasy.  I like the tension, the intimacy.  I like power. Both asserting and receiving. Strength and sub-mission.  It’s like sexual I Ching.  Give.  Take.  Dominate. Submit.  But nothing violent, you understand.  I play it safe, sane, and consensual,” she said as if repeating radio jingle.  “Nothing too perverse.”

“Nothing too perverse?”

“Consider it a hard massage.  I like it both ways, but nothing painful.”

“Nothing painful,” Win repeated, recalling his dentist’s reassuring lie about the ease of root canal.

“Not at all. I mostly like the costumes. It’s like adult Halloween.”

“Halloween?”

“Sure. Like playing dress up. Gives you a chance to let your mind go, explore the dark side. It’s the ultimate safe sex. You can’t even consider it cheating. Not really.  I never do straight. Well, maybe oral,” she added quietly, sounding like a dieter surrendering to a Weight Watcher sundae.

“I have the rest of the afternoon off,” she said, fixing her eyes on him with Nancy Reagan admiration.

Thus began the first of many encounters, most of which Win could only perform or endure under the influence of alcohol.

 

Lying in the tub, Win rubbed his temples, then forced himself out of the warm embryonic water to shower and, more tentatively, shave.

Clad in a bathrobe, Barbie was making his bed when he returned. She fluffed the pillows, smoothed the comforter, then collected the accouterments of modern romance—body oil, vibrator, adult DVDs, and five-inch spike heels.

“Honey, you really shouldn’t drink so much.”  She smiled, offering him coffee.

He nodded, taking burning gulps of Eight O’Clock French Roast.

As Winfield dressed, he watched Barbie slip into white pantyhose, cream skirt, white blouse, sensible heels, and gold Century 21 blazer.

“I’ve got to buzz home to check on the kids,” she said, consulting her smart phone. “I’ve got appointments the rest of the day.  Do you want to get together Thursday?  Around two?”

“Sure,” Win agreed, feeling like a casual user sliding in-to addiction.

 

The July morning was cool. He walked Barbie to her car.  “You know, I lived in New York right after college,” she said. “West Seventy-Second. I love that town. Went to Hellfire once.  Didn’t like it.” She wrinkled her nose as if recalling a disappointing dessert at Le Cirque.

Still the neophyte, Win volunteered an apology, “I hope I didn’t hurt your wrist.”

“Oh, this?” She pulled back her sleeve, revealing a circle of darkened flesh.  “My bruises fade.  I tell Jerry they come from aerobics.”

They reached her car, a dark blue Volvo bearing a “Have You Hugged Your Kids Today?” bumper sticker.  She opened the trunk and dropped in the black shoulder bag with a heavy thud.

Donning sunglasses, she smiled at Win. “Until Thursday.  If something comes up, text me.”

Win nodded, the fresh air reviving his headache.

“Look, Win, I’ve just gotten to know you.  I realize I shouldn’t make any judgments or tell you how to live your life, but I am beginning to care about you.  As a special friend.”  She paused, grating the steel tip of her heel against the curb.  “Win, I think you should seriously consider going condo.”

 

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