Broken Pieces

Jack Canon's American Destiny

E. Stoops' #WriteTip on Settings Aren't Just for Diamonds #AmReading #AmWriting #HistFic

Saturday, June 28, 2014

I don’t know if it’s just the books I’ve been picking lately, but I’ve noticed an awful lot of non-specific settings being used.  Vague State College in Moderately-Sized City, USA is a popular location as is  Bigger City, USA that is a strange mishmash of New York City, Miami, San Francisco and Phoenix, sometimes with a touch, but not too much, of Chicago or Detroit. While I prefer that horror stories occur in Derry, Maine, because Derry doesn’t exist (so I tell myself) I really prefer that other books take place in a real setting, or at least a very specific setting, one I feel like I could stumble over on a long road trip through the area.
It’s not because I necessarily find specifics more exciting, it’s more that I like to believe that the book I’m reading really could be  transcriptions of tapes left behind revealing a secret world that has existed under my nose (the premise of pretty much every Urban Fantasy novel ever.) Or that there really is, somewhere in our universe, a planet with magic, dragons, enchanted swords and dazzlingly beautiful women. Simply put, specific isn’t exciting on it’s own, but it makes a setting feel real, and the more real and concrete a book convinces me the story is, the more gripping I find it. It’s like a stage magician – if you can figure out the trick it’s bummer, but the minute you realize you can’t, your mind has to accept that maybe it really is happening. And doesn’t the show get more exciting then? Same with books for me.
Specific settings also help with one of my pet peeves – internal consistency. Books with vague settings tend to make mistakes. In the first chapter the character mentions that they made a quick fifteen-minute run to the grocery store, but it’s a plot point in chapter 15 that she lives 20 miles out of town. Oops. In a specific setting the mistake might still happen, but it’s unlikely. And it also helps with characterization. Once you have a specific setting you can easily say what is or is not normal for the area, which helps the reader determine who is and isn’t an outsider without the author directly explaining (spoon-feeding) those details to the reader.  But there’s always caveats – some stories need the vague location to have the proper ambiance. Authors that choose a specific place but screw up basic details tend to get crucified.
I think the best question to ask is not “Should this be more specific?” but “What advantage do I gain if I leave this detail vague?” If you can’t think of one, it’s probably time to be specific. This also opens the book up to great opportunities for specifics to provide subtle clues about who isn’t who they seem. In Pocket, notice that Magister Ryan drinks tea while the rest of the crew drinks coffee. It’s the earliest foreshadowing that he isn’t who he says he is.

In an alternate universe where the twentieth century gave rise to individuals with psychic talents, the Great War ended far differently, and the flow of history led the United States into a losing war with China by the middle of the twenty-first century. The combined submarine navies of Britain, Russia, France, Canada and the United States are holding back an ever more hostile enemy that is intent on winning a war of attrition. A desperate Navy presses antiquated boats into service to supply the main fleet and mans them with the leavings of the Navy’s worst sailors. For Chief Petty Officer Lucius Tagget and his best friend Aaron Fredrickson, it’s their ticket out of naval prison and a chance to clear their names.

What should be an uneventful assignment behind the front lines turns into a nightmare when Aaron is killed in an accident that claims the lives of all the men on his submarine. Terrified of condemning another boat and crew to eternal patrol, the Navy assigns the CPNS Puget Sound a talented seer in hopes of preventing another accident. Instead, that decision changes the entire crew, and ultimately, the entire war.
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Genre - Alternative History
Rating - PG-15
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ROAD TO KEY WEST #Excerpt by Michael Reisig #AmReading #Humor #Adventure

Friday, June 27, 2014

We sat in the little downtown cantina with a mixture of somber locals nursing cervezas and a handful of older, tour bus touristas adorned in flowered muumuus and “I love Costa Rica” T-shirts. Will and I were discussing exactly how many rum and Cokes 500 colones would buy, because if we nursed them, we could fill up on the free nachos, when a gentleman who had been sitting quietly in the corner across from us rose and came over to our table. The first thing I thought of when I saw him was Casablanca. The guy looked like an overweight Bogart. He was only about five-nine, but was a rotund 200 pounds, easily—not so much fat as heavy, in a formidable fashion. He had on a white dinner jacket, which had seen some wear, a red flowered shirt that strained to contain him, a pair of cut-off shorts that might have, at one time, been a relative to the jacket, and leather sandals. An old Panama hat that was a little weary around the edges was perched atop his head, tilted back slightly, covering most of his longish, straw-colored hair. He took the cigarillo out of his mouth and exhaled a blue cloud at the ceiling fan, which immediately sucked up the smoke and dissected it. Glancing briefly at both of us with confident, pale blue eyes, he pulled back a chair and sat down without invitation. “Do you mind if I sit down?” His accent was a little clipped, almost British, but carrying the occasional inflection and cadence of a person who has spent a good deal of time south of the border.  “I couldn’t help but hear you talking about your present predicament.” He sighed, a little on the dramatic side. “The lack of finances does have a way of spoiling these beautiful Costa Rican days—and they are beautiful, no? The name’s Sundance—just a nickname, but I like it. From Canada—Vancouver. What’s yours?
“Kansas, and Will,” I said, motioning toward my partner. “The Florida Keys. On a diving trip and having a pretty damned good time, until we lost all our belongings in a boat wreck.”
The man nodded sagely as the waiter delivered two more drinks for us, and a shot of tequila for him.
He looked out the window of the cantina at the street then back to us. “Well, today providence has smiled on you, because it just so happens I’m on the way to make a withdrawal from my bank, which is right across the street. Now, if I lent you some money, would you promise on the soul of your favorite whore to pay it back?”
Will shrugged almost imperceptibly. “I don’t have a favorite whore,” he said. “I love ‘em all.”
Sundance smiled, displaying a remarkable collection of pearly teeth. “Ha! A man after my own heart!”
“Yeah, we’ll pay you back,” I said. “Every last penny, as soon as we get back to the States.”
Five minutes later we were walking through the doors of the First National Bank of Puntarenas. The five tellers looked out from their stations, friendly, smiling. A withered old guard stood slouched against the wall in the corner. Two executives chatted from their desks on the other side.
Sundance turned to Will and I. “You guys just go get the money.”
I was about to say, “What money?” when our new friend pulled a large revolver from the opposite side of the mescalin his coat and fired twice into the ceiling. “Este’ es un robo!” he shouted in what I thought was excellent Spanish. “Hands up!”
Everyone just stood gaping for a moment. Sundance fired into the ceiling again. That brought the hands up. “Drop your gun!” he yelled at the guard, who gingerly took out his pistola and let it fall to the floor. Pulling a flower sack from his coat pocket, Sundance threw it to Will and me. “Get the money from the tellers!”
I turned around, facing him. “What do you mean get the money? I’m not robbing a freaking ba –”
Bam!  Bam! Bam! There were three neat holes in the floor by my shoes.
“Just get the money!” he yelled. “You wanna be rich or walk with a limp?”
While Will and I were politely asking for cash from the tellers—trying to explain that this was all a misunderstanding, that we really didn’t know our accomplice was a madman, and we weren’t really bank robbers—Sundance pulled out his flask and took a long shot of mescal, then tucked it under his armpit as he flicked out the cylinder on the revolver and ejected the six empty casings. He was rummaging through his pockets, trying to find more bullets, when the old guard started slowly bringing his hands down, reaching for his gun on the floor.
Sundance swung around and drew down on him, cylinder of the pistol still open, empty. “Don’t do it, old man, or I’ll shoot!” he said, still rummaging for cartridges.
The old guy reached down a little more. Sundance’s voice was rising.
“I’m telling you, don’t do it or I’ll drop you!” (He found two rounds but in the process of trying to get them into the cylinder he dropped them on the floor.)
The guard finally had the gun and was rising, albeit a little shaky and uncertain.
“I warned you, didn’t I!” screamed Sundance as he stomped over three paces, aimed the gun point-blank at the guard, and yelled, “Bang! Bang!” as loud as he could.
The old man recoiled and cried “Arrrhhh!” stumbling backwards, losing his balance and falling against the banister of the teller windows, knocking himself out.
Sundance turned to us—us with the bag of money—and smiled. “Man, am I good or what? I shot him with an empty gun! No?” He fumbled for a moment longer and found his bullets, then quickly reloaded. Snapping the cylinder closed, he yelled, “Viva la revolucion!” and tossed the mescal flask high into the air. Raising his pistol he fired twice in quick succession. The bottle tumbled to the floor unscathed—two more bullet holes in the ceiling. He looked at us, and smiled, eyebrows up like Groucho Marx. “You’ve got to admit it would have been impressive, no?”
Two minutes later we were in the back of a taxi and Sundance was waving his pistol at the freaked-out driver, giving him directions. Then he turned to us in the back. “That was glorious! Just glorious! We were a great team today. I can see the headlines in tomorrow’s paper, ‘Tres Banditos Strike!’ We can rob these beaner banks for years! El Tres Banditos! We may go down in a hail of bullets eventually, but we will have had our time—left our mark!”
“I don’t want to be a bank robber,” I said.
Will leaned forward and grabbed the top of the front seat. “I don’t want to go down in a hail of bullets.”
Sundance just laughed. “C’mon, where’s your adventurous spirit?”
“I think it got sucked up my little puckered asshole when you started shooting holes in the ceiling of a bank and demanding their money,” I said.
Sundance shook his head and smiled. “No cojones, no colones, man. That’s how it is in the bank-robbing business.”

The Road to Key West is an adventurous/humorous sojourn that cavorts its way through the 1970s Caribbean, from Key West and the Bahamas, to Cuba and Central America.
In August of 1971, Kansas Stamps and Will Bell set out to become nothing more than commercial divers in the Florida Keys, but adventure, or misadventure, seems to dog them at every turn. They encounter a parade of bizarre characters, from part-time pirates and heartless larcenists, to Voodoo bokors, a wacky Jamaican soothsayer, and a handful of drug smugglers. Adding even more flavor to this Caribbean brew is a complicated romance, a lost Spanish treasure, and a pre antediluvian artifact created by a distant congregation who truly understood the term, “pyramid power.”
Pour yourself a margarita, sit back, and slide into the ‘70s for a while as you follow Kansas and Will through this cocktail of madcap adventures – on The Road To Key West.
IF YOU ENJOY THIS NOVEL BE SURE TO READ THE SEQUEL, “BACK ON THE ROAD TO KEY WEST” (To be released in late August or early September, 2013)
“Jimmy Buffett should set this tropical tale to music! The best Key West stories can only be written by those who have lived here, and Reisig expertly captures the steamy, seedy, beautiful allure of the islands. “The Road to Key West” takes readers on a hysterical journey through the humidity and humanity that only exists in the lower latitudes. And much like the Keys in the 1970s, it’s a hell of a trip.
—Mandy Bolen, The Key West Citizen
“The Road to Key West” combines the dry cleverness of Lewis Grizzard, the wit of Dave Barry, and Reisig’s impeccable sense of timing. It’s an action-packed, romantic, charming, hilarious take on the ‘70s and its generation. A must-read!
—John Archibald, Ouachita Life Magazine
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From the best-selling author of “The Road To Key West” comes a sequel guaranteed to take the reader even higher – another rollicking, hilarious Caribbean adventure that will have you ripping at the pages and laughing out loud.
“Back On The Road To Key West” reintroduces the somewhat reluctant adventurers Kansas Stamps and Will Bell, casting them into one bizarre situation after another while capturing the true flavor and feel of Key West and the Caribbean in the early 1980s.
An ancient map and a lost pirate treasure, a larcenous Bahamian scoundrel and his gang of cutthroats, a wild and crazy journey into South America in search of a magical antediluvian device, and perilous/hilarious encounters with outlandish villains and zany friends will keep you locked to your seat and giggling maniacally. (Not to mention headhunters, smugglers, and beautiful women with poisonous pet spiders.) You’ll also welcome back Rufus, the wacky, mystical Jamaican Rastaman, and be captivated by another “complicated romance” as Kansas and Will struggle with finding and keeping “the girls of their dreams.”
So pour yourself a margarita, and get comfortable. You’re in for another rousing medley of madcap adventures in paradise, with “Back On The Road To Key West.”
Michael Reisig takes us back once again to the Key West I wish I had known – and that others wish they remembered more clearly. Kansas and Will are back in “Back on the Road to Key West,” with their trademark penchant for sultry sarcasm and sun-drenched excitement. Once again Reisig captures the character of the Keys in a way that proves he’s been here – and perhaps done that. No one wraps us in humidity and surrounds us with saltwater like this guy, whose tales of the tropics draw us constantly back to their welcoming, yet provocative shores. — Mandy Miles, The Key West Citizen
Having lived in Key West in the late ’70′s and early ’80′s, at a time when Mel Fisher still hunted the Atocha, shrimp boats filled the harbors, and ‘square grouper’ were still an abundant species, Michael Reisig’s Back on the Road to Key West, transports me back in time. Will Bell and Kansas Stamps face an assortment of ruthless antagonists and chase adventure with the abandon of the era, and whether you lived it or not, don’t miss the chance to now. Vivid imagery, strong prose and an exciting plot make this trip with the boys worth taking. Enjoy the ride!”
– John H. Cunningham, author of the Buck Reilly Adventure Series
Stumbling their way in and out of trouble and fortune, Kansas Stamps and Will Bell continue to be the idols of what every true Parrot Head imagines real life in The Keys would be — full of spontaneous adventure. What a great read!
– Bryan Crews, former president, Tampa Parrot Head Club
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Fast-paced humor-adventure with wacky pilots, quirky con men, bold women, mad villains, and a gadget to die for…
In the third book of Michael Reisig’s captivating series, Florida Keys adventurers Kansas Stamps and
Will Bell find their lives turned upside down when they discover a truth device hidden in the temple of an ancient civilization. Enthralled by the virtue (and entertainment value) of personally dispensing truth and justice with this unique tool, they take it all a step too far and discover that everyone wants what they have.
Seasoned with outrageous humor and sultry romances, Along The Road To Key West carries you through one wild adventure after another. This time, Kansas and Will are forced to wrest veracity and lies from con artists, divine hustlers, and political power brokers while trying to stay one step ahead of a persistent assembly of very bad guys with guns.

In the process, from Key West, into the Caribbean, and back to America’s heartland, our inadvertent heroes gather a bizarre collage of friends and enemies – from a whacked-out, one-eyed pilot, and a mystical Rastaman, to a ruthless problem-solver for a prominent religious sect, a zany flimflamming sociopath, and a Cuban intelligence agent. In the end, it all comes down to a frantic gamble – to save far more than the truth. So pour yourself a margarita and settle back. You’re in for a high intensity Caribbean carnival ride!
NOTE: Much of this book was originally published as a novel of mine called, “The Truthmaker.” But with the growing popularity of my “Road To Key West” series, I decided to rewrite it and publish it as “Along The Road To Key West.” – Michael Reisig
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Genre - Caribbean Humor, Adventure
Rating – PG
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@JennyHayworth1 on Being A Lifeline in INSIDE/OUTSIDE #Abuse #Memoir #AmReading

In 2004 I had commenced studying for my bachelor of nursing degree at university. I completed nine units over a twelve-month period and then decided it was not for me. When considering other careers, I decided to transfer to social work as I was allowed to do eight subjects of another discipline as part of the degree, so I wouldn’t have wasted a year of study. However, the university had closed the midyear intake, and I did not wish to wait until March the following year to commence studying. I looked at psychology and transferred my nine subjects over to that degree and commenced straightaway. I was living in a small town and working part time at the local hospital as well as studying.
I read an advertisement in the local paper asking for volunteers. I had not forgotten in the past years how many times the Lifeline counsellors had been there for me in my darkest hours, and I was determined to give back for all I had taken. It was an inner force driving me. I had always known, from the first time I had been encouraged by the mental-health support nurse to enrol and do the course, that I would return one day and work on the phones. Now, looking at the advertisement in the paper, I decided it was time.
I applied to do the telephone-counselling course and was accepted. During the following three months, I completed 120 hours of role play education and learnt the art of reflective listening. My journey of personal growth at that time was extraordinary. Once again I felt in awe of this agency, set up to help normal, everyday people help other everyday people in distress. I loved the fact that it didn’t matter what faith or belief you had; as long as you agreed with the foundation principles, you could be trained to be a telephone counsellor.
I completed the course and loved every minute of it. I found much of it challenging, as we had to learn to listen actively and reflectively and support people who were suicidal, self-harming, or in dire need of a listening ear for all different reasons. People who had been victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, or who suffered from mental illnesses, came and spoke to us, which personally challenged any preconceptions and biases we might have held. I learnt so much from the role playing and having a group reflect back to me about how I performed. The feedback from others, on such things as tone of voice and my effectiveness in how I used each of the skills we needed to learn, was invaluable.
I learnt how I had to put aside my own experiences, background, and preconceptions even if I had experienced some of the issues that clients raised on the phone. I had to truly listen and be there with people, by their sides, as they poured out their personal pain. I learnt so much about myself and more importantly, about how to truly be with someone else who was going through personal crises or was in emotional pain.
I passed the course and was approved to move on to practical experience on the telephones. There were plenty of support people on hand to sit with me for as long as I required. I found that knowing what had helped me the most when I had been the one calling helped me now to a certain degree, but the most important thing was to be fully available emotionally to the person on the other end. The Egan method of counselling, which is the basis of Lifeline training, is a person-centred therapy. The tools they taught us in regard to how to listen and guide another actively through the maze of often-conflicting options and emotions were invaluable.
I encountered every situation you could think of in these few months. Most who were suicidal had attempted suicide before and been in hospital, or they felt suicidal and were in extreme emotional pain that they didn’t feel they could share with their families or friends. Some had actual suicidal plans, and yet something had made them ring instead of carrying through with them at that particular time.
Many were just plain lonely to the bone and had no one to listen to them or to talk with. I was surprised that just a hearing ear was what most people wished for. Nearly all who phoned had no trouble talking, and they let me know when they had talked enough, felt better and more able to cope, and could carry on.
Many people said they had told secrets they had kept for years—things they had done they were ashamed of and didn’t feel they could live with if anyone found out, conflicted emotions about partners and children and parents. They spoke about things they were scared to voice out loud to those around them but needed to be heard and to say. They needed to have a chance, in a safe place with a safe person they couldn’t see, to say the words and work out their own path in the telling.
Everyone had a story.
One particular night I went on my shift as usual. From the time the phone rang and I picked up the call, I knew I had a young woman on the line that was serious about taking her life.
“Hello, Lifeline. How can I help you?” I answered.
At first there was only silence. I sat quietly listening as I had been taught, and I could hear music in the background, and the soft sounds of someone breathing.
“It’s okay, take your time. I am right here when you want to start talking.”
I heard the sound of a deep intake of breath. Gulping, ragged sobs filled the earpiece of my phone, and the sound of someone trying to suck back in all the pain echoed in my ear. I could identify it was a female crying although no words had been spoken by her yet.
I allowed about fifteen more seconds to go by whilst I listened to her crying.
“You don’t have to start at the beginning. Sometimes it’s too hard to know where to start. It’s okay not to know,” I said. Sounds of more crying filled my ear, louder now and less controlled. It was the sort of crying that occurs when someone is absolutely bereft, exhausted, and in despair. The wailing was coming from the depths of someone’s soul, the sound of someone who had lost everything and had nothing remaining.
I allowed a few more seconds to go by until I heard a lull in the crying as the person struggled to get their breath. “I am right here with you. You are not alone,” I said. The wailing was less intense, and I could tell she was listening to me. “I can hear you are in enormous emotional pain. It is okay to cry. You’re not alone anymore.” I stayed quiet for a few seconds. “What is your name?”
“Karen.” Sobs started slowly building up intensity again.
“Karen, can you tell me what is happening for you right now? What made you pick up the phone and ring me tonight?”
“I just want to die. I just want to die.” The female voice wailed loud and high, frantic and nearly shouting. “I can’t do it anymore. It’s just too hard. I just want to die. I can’t take anymore. It’s too much. It’s all too much.”
I identified exhaustion, slurring, lack of hope, and the clink of what sounded like a glass. I pushed the “alert” button and, at the same time, dialled the number for my supervisor on the mobile phone I had next to me. I left the phone on the bench and kept talking.
“Where are you right now? Are you at home?” I asked.
“Where is home, Karen?”
“It doesn’t matter. I want to die. I just want to die.” Her voice rose again to a crescendo.
“Karen, have you been drinking?”
“Vodka. It is my favourite drink. I’ve nearly finished the bottle.” Her voice was slurring, and my concern elevated another notch as her ability to self-moderate and respond to reasoning would be compromised. Suddenly her voice slipped into the hushed sing-song tones of a little girl. It was so soft, and her words so slurred, I was finding it hard to pick up the meaning of what she was saying.
“I’m touching me. I’m touching me. Oh, there’s blood all over everywhere. I can taste it.”
Soft moaning filled the air. The strains of music in the background muffled her voice. “Daddy, Daddy. Oh, I am so turned on. Why are you doing this to me? Why?” Her moans changed to a high-pitched sob, and her gulp for breath filled my ear.
“Karen, are you cutting yourself?”
“Yes. There is blood everywhere. I am going to die. I want to die.”
“Karen, can you please put the knife or razor down whilst you are talking to me? Karen, have you put down what you are cutting yourself with? I need you to put it down whilst you talk to me.”
“Karen, I hear that you want to die. I believe you. But part of you picked up the phone and rang me tonight. Part of you must want to live, as you rang me tonight. I need to talk to that part of you that wants to live.”
“No, I want to die.” Her voice suddenly changed back to that of an adult. “All of me wants to die. I can’t take it anymore. My daughters will be better off with me dead. I’m no good to them. They should stay with their father all the time. They would be better off. I am useless to them.”
“I hear you say you believe your daughters will be better off with you dead. I hear you say you want to die.” I allowed a few seconds’ silence. Her breathing was noisy and raspy. “Why did you ring me tonight, Karen? Why did you ring me on the night you want to die?”
Her voice, interlaced with sobs, shouted down the phone at me. “Because I’m scared. I don’t want to be alone when I die. I want someone with me.” I waited a few seconds until her loud, frantic sobs started to die down.
“I hear you’re scared, Karen. Karen, if I could wave a magic wand and take all your emotional pain away, would you still want to die? If all the emotional pain was gone, would you still want to die?”
“No, but you can’t. No one can. I’ve tried. I’ve tried everything, and nothing works. This is going to work. It is all going to end tonight.”
“Tell me about your emotional pain, Karen. Tell me why it feels so bad.”
Everything else in the room and in my life ceased to exist except for her voice, her words, her story, and the phone against my ear. I tried to stay with her as she went to some dark places and took me with her.
She was currently separated and had two young daughters. They lived with her full time, but this weekend they were staying with their father. She said he was a good father, and her daughters enjoyed going. She sometimes spoke in a normal-sounding voice and then would switch to a voice that sounded like a little girl’s as she regressed in time and was living a reality back from when she was a child. She was drinking vodka as we spoke and sometimes masturbating. She kept on picking up the razor and cutting herself. She was in her bedroom with loud music playing whilst she was cutting the top of her leg deep down to her femoral artery.
She wanted to die.
She had made up her mind that it would happen this weekend, and her ex-husband would find her on the Monday morning after he had dropped their daughters at school and come around to drop off their gear. She was a victim of long and sustained childhood sexual abuse by her father. She kept drifting in and out of consciousness toward the end of the call. She was in an altered reality because of emotional pain, intoxication, and sedatives and was cutting and masturbating to try to alleviate some of her tension while stating she wanted to die. Her memories of childhood and adult emotional pain intermingled.
My supervisor had come in and had called the police in the caller’s area twice already. Unfortunately, as police had taken her suicidal to hospital some months previously, they were in no hurry to get to her. They were prioritising other calls, not realising the seriousness of the situation. This was not an unusual situation for us on the phones. Many police were escorts for the mentally ill and suicidal, taking them to hospital, and most had regulars in their areas that they got to know well. This sometimes made them act with less urgency.
However, my supervisor kept ringing and conveying to them that I was an experienced counsellor, and she trusted my instinct that this girl was actively attempting to suicide and would bleed to death if no one reached her soon. All my gut instinct was screaming out to me that this was so. I channelled all my energy and every fibre of my being down that phone to her; I was a hundred percent focused on trying to say the right words to convey to her to live and not to die, and that I was there for her.
I appealed to her as a fellow human being, through her daughters, through the young self she kept slipping into, that there was hope, there was a reason to live, there was a way out of this pain, there was a way to have the emotional pain stop and end without her having to die. She wanted the emotional pain to end, but that didn’t mean her life had to end. Her daughters would not be better off with her dead. When she didn’t have the emotional pain to deal with, she could be there for them. She could be the mother she wanted to be. She could build a new life once the pain was gone. She could trust people again.
I asked her what had happened this particular weekend that was the final straw that had made her decide to kill herself. She had received a bill in the mail that she said she could not pay. It was added to the other bills, and it was the breaking point for her.
It was all too much. She had no one to share her pain with or to support her through her marriage breakup, being a mother, or her own abuse memories that were flooding her now that she was on her own. She did not feel she could cope as an adult in this world any longer. She did not feel she could be an adequate parent and role model for her daughters when she could barely get out of bed each day. She didn’t want them to see her like this. She didn’t want to frighten them. She was starting to behave in ways she did not like. She felt they would be better off without her.
I tried to ask her what had helped her get through these times in the past, when she had previously been this distressed and suicidal. But it was nearly impossible to reason as an adult with her when her rationality was not in charge, and her younger, seemingly emotional self was in charge.
I therefore said that Karen the adult needed to look after Karen the child. Her child self didn’t need to be cut and hurt. Her child self didn’t need sexual stimulation when she was drunk and scared. Her child self needed the adult Karen who had rung Lifeline to put down the razor, put down the alcohol, and just let her sleep, let her lie down and rest, as she had been through enough.
She stopped talking, and I no longer knew if she was conscious. I just kept talking and talking, hoping she could hear me and hoping something I was saying in a calm, soothing, nonjudgmental voice was getting through to her.
The police arrived at the house; I could hear through the phone that they were breaking down the door. One of the police picked up the phone and started talking to me. He said she had cut down to the artery, and it looked like she had nicked it. There was blood everywhere. She was unconscious, but the paramedics had arrived, and they were taking her to the hospital.
I was so relieved.
He hung up the phone, and suddenly there was just silence where there had been intense energy and focus. All the energy just drained out of me, and I felt myself start to shake. She was alive. She was going to make it—for that night anyway. I prayed and hoped someone at the hospital would relate to her and help her. That she would find a doctor or therapist who could help her find a way out of the maze and trap she had found herself in with no hope.
On the way home, in the dark and quiet, I suddenly had to pull my car over. I thanked the whole universe for letting me be the one to sit with Karen during her pain, for the police and paramedics who had gone to her assistance, and for the doctors and nurses who would be attending to her. I had intensely related to her. I understood her switching between her child self and adult self. I understood her use of masturbation and alcohol to try to alleviate the intense aloneness and emotional pain. I understood the cutting and thumping music for the same reasons.
Then I just sat in the dark, in the stillness and the silence, and with my whole heart wished and prayed she would find a way in the coming weeks and months through her emotional pain so she could find a reason to live again and be wholly there for her daughters as she grew older. As people had been there for me when I was at my lowest.
I felt something click together in my head and heart. It was a physical sensation and a feeling of completeness that washed over me. Something closed up in me that I had not realised until then had still been open. A feeling of fullness and wholeness filled me.
I prayed to the universe to watch over the young woman, and in my mind’s eye I handed over the responsibility for her healing and destiny to the universe. I trusted that her journey and mine had collided for a reason, but that reason was completed now. I let go of her figurative hand. I felt the anxiety connected to what might have been happening with her leave me.
I started the car again and drove home. I felt deep within my bones that I had fulfilled a karmic debt, and the circle was complete.
I was released.
***Award winning book (finalist) in 2014 Beverley Hills International Book Awards***

Jenny Hayworth grew up within the construct of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which she describes as a fundamentalist cult-like religion. She devoted her life to it for over thirty years. Then she left it. The church “unfellowshipped” her-rendering her dead to those family and friends still committed to the church.Hayworth is a sexual abuse survivor. The trauma changed her self-perception, emotional development, trust, and every interaction with the world.

Inside/Outside is her exploration of sexual abuse, religious fundamentalism, and recovery. Her childhood circumstances and tragedies forced her to live “inside.” This memoir chronicles her journey from experiencing comfort and emotional satisfaction only within her fantasy world to developing the ability to feel and express real life emotion on the “outside.”
It is a story that begins with tragic multigenerational abuse, within an oppressive society, and ends with hope and rebirth into a life where she experiences real connections and satisfaction with the outside world.
Those who have ever felt trapped by trauma or circumstances will find Inside/Outside a dramatic reassurance that they are not alone in the world, and they have the ability to have a fulfilling life, both inside and out.
Foreward Clarion Review – “What keeps the pages of Hayworth’s life story turning is her honesty, tenacity, and sheer will to survive through an astounding number of setbacks. Inside/Outside proves the resilience of the human spirit and shows that the cycle of abuse can indeed be broken”
Kirkus Review – “A harrowing memoir of one woman’s struggle to cope with sexual abuse and depression while living in – and eventually leaving – the Jehovah’s Witnesses”
Readers Favourite 5 Star Review – “The book is an inspiring story for those who are going through traumatic times…”
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Jenny Hayworth on Facebook & Twitter

#Excerpt from ENTICING by April Wood @apejaywood #AmReading #Romance #Paranormal

Friday, June 13, 2014

“That day I had gone to the Market for Mrs. Johnston.  When I came home I found the castle covered in blood.  Mrs. Johnston was dead in the scullery. I ran up the stairs calling your name.  I found you in this room on my bed. You were naked covered in blood and semen.  I didn’t know what to think,” I explained.  I took a sip of my tea.  Reliving it was making my nerves a little jumpy.
“I walked around your body not knowing if you were dead.  I bumped into my maid’s body on the floor.  Then I knew I was in danger.  You had not only drained all the humans, you also drained all the vampires. I scanned the room for a weapon.  As I was searching you sat up on the bed.  Your eyes were crazed.  I grabbed a spear just as you rushed me,” I continued.  I had to stop and take a breath.  I was getting overwhelmed.
“Please go on,” he said.
“I plunged the spear in your chest.  You fell back on the bed, presumably dead.  I ran downstairs and found the kerosene. I spread it over the house and set it on fire.  I watched for a few moments then I ran to town. I heard several years’ later rumors of your existence. But they were just rumors.”
“Interesting,” he replied.
Yvonne has been living life fairly carefree until the sudden resurface of her dead maker, Magnus. She thinks he wants revenge, but all he wants is her. She can’t resist him. He is just as mouthwatering to her now as he was when he created her two hundred and fifty years ago. As their love rekindles forces outside of them grow threatening to destroy all the happiness they have finally found. 

Her sister Annabeth is seeking revenge for the bite she suffered at Magnus’s hands. She will stop at nothing to exact vengeance on him and Yvonne. 

Will their love be strong enough for the battles ahead?
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Paranormal Romance
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with April Wood through Facebook & Twitter

@GaryTroia Opens Up on All Things Past & Present #Authors #AmReading #Fiction

Thursday, June 12, 2014

  1. He was deported from the United States of America on a drugs charge in 1994
  2. He Changed his name from Ridgeway to Troia by deed poll
  3. As well as being a bricklayer he also used to clean chandeliers
  4. His secondary school, ‘Abbey Wood’ was so bad that Panorama did a documentary on it
  5. He has a degree in Spanish and philosophy
  6. He is half Italian
  7. He worked as a lecturer for ten years and was head of department for 2 years
  8. He lives in Winchester, UK
  9. He has lived in many places, including: Bilbao, Andalucía, Maryland, Los Angeles, London, Lerwick and Glasgow
  10. He lives with his wife, Marina and his step son Jamie

For the first time ever, this collection of short stories by Gary Troia brings together, in chronological order stories and memoirs from Spanish Yarns and Beyond, English Yarns and Beyond and A Bricklayer’s Tales into one complete volume.
“Excellent! A collection of short stories about depression, alcoholism and drug use. Very compelling reading. I read this short story collection all in one go.” (Maria, Goodreads.)
A Bricklayer’s Tales is the ultimate “I hate this job” story, written as a collection of short stories and memoirs, each one revealing a snapshot in the life of Ray. Troia captures the tedium of working in a low paid, menial job and living hand to mouth. This book of short stories is sad and questions the reader to ask questions about their own life. This book achieves clarity without trying.
Ray has three expensive hobbies: drinking, drugs, and running away. Without the income that Bricklaying provides, he would not be able to maintain his chosen lifestyle, so he compromises his principles and continues with his trade.
A collection of short stories and memoirs that include:
The Cuckoo’s Egg. Boyhood antics lead to tragedy.
My Grandfather’s Shed. The making of an English key
No Comb on the Cock. Gypsies, champion fighting cocks, and career choices.
What I Did In My Summer Holidays In 1000 Words. Could having an idea ever be considered a criminal act?
My Best Mate’s Head. Did a weekend of boozing save Ray from certain death?
The Shetland Isles. A trip to sunny Benidorm, a chance meeting with some Glaswegians, and a cold, miserable job in Lerwick.
Pointing a House in Islington. Too much alcohol and cocaine don’t mix well on building sites!
Angel Dust. The peculiar story of a man whose new life in America leads to conversations with Ancient Greek philosophers
Peyote. Hippies, LSD and an idyllic refuge
Return Ticket. Handcuffed and ready for deportation. A sad departure from the States
When I Joined a Cult. Sober dating as Ray discovers religion.
Bilbao. How very, very English!
Teaching Other People. The grass is always greener-the escape from bricklaying.
A Week in the Life of Ray Dennis. With the prospect of no money for food or alcohol this Christmas, Ray has to find work quickly.
Catania. A meeting with a Sicilian fox, some Neapolitans, and a man with a camel haired coat.
Advert In The Art Shop Window. Will a new building job in Spain be the start of a new life?
Gaudi. A flight to Barcelona for a kebab, and a look at the Sagrada Familia.
The Day My Soul Left Me. “To be or not to be? That is the question”
How Not to Travel to The AlhambraHung-over, the wrong fuel, the car breaks down. Will they ever make it to Granada?
The Road To Ronda. A terrifying drive to Ronda, was it worth it?
Poking A Carob Tree. A new home and new neighbours, just in time for Christmas.
Spain Reborn.No more commuting to London. Lets celebrate!
Home From HomeA parallel world where the Spanish have taken over Weymouth.
Three Common Carp.An epic battle with a whale and marlin it is not.
Mrs. McClintock. An absurd farce in which a Glaswegian couple retire to Spain
Steak, Egg and Intensive Care. A harmless dinner leads to hospitalisation.
The Unchangeable Chameleon. Can a leopard change it’s spots?
A Bricklayer’s Tale. The story of a disillusioned, alcoholic bricklayer
A collection short stories and memoirs of British dark humour.
 Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Fiction, Short Stories
Rating - PG-16
More details about the author
Connect with Gary Troia on Facebook & Twitter

#Excerpt from SHENANDOAH NIGHTS by @LisaBelcastro19 #Romance #Christian #AmReading

Rebecca turned to face the captain. “Ready. How do I look?”
When she heard his sharp intake of breath, her fears evaporated like drops of water on hot pavement in the summer sun. His eyes roamed over her body. She fought the impulse to cover herself. She suddenly felt naked under two hundred pounds of cloth. She raised her head and met his gaze. Her heart plunged to her stomach. He was devouring her with his eyes.
“The dress does not do you justice, Mrs. O’Neill.”
“Mrs. Reed,” Rebecca corrected, hoping desperately to divert his attention from the dress.
“I stand corrected Mrs. Reed. Now turn about so I may fasten the laces.”
Rebecca felt Ben’s hands moving up her spine, his knuckles resting on her back as he stretched and pulled the laces together. Why in blazes does the barest touch, through cloth nonetheless, send my heart racing?
Rebecca lost all focus when Ben’s fingers reached the top of the dress and brushed across the base of her neck. Before she had time to recover, Ben drew his thumb over her skin along the edge of the dress. She struggled to catch her breath.
“Relax, Mrs. Reed.” His words caressed her skin as he spoke. “Lift your hair so I may tie these off.”
He is torturing me and surely knows. If I live through this day, I’m going to kill him. Rebecca’s silent vow brought a small amount of satisfaction.
Ben spent an eternity tying the bow, and then lazily, ever so softly, dragged a finger up her neck to the base of her hairline. Rebecca sucked in her breath and dropped her hair. She thought she heard him stifle a chuckle. He leaned closer and whispered, “You have beautiful hair. I can’t get the smell of it out of my mind.”
As he eased back, he ran his fingers through her hair and turned her around to face him. Rebecca was certain every emotion she felt would be reflected in her eyes.
“Ben?” she asked softly.
He grazed his thumb over her cheek, never taking his eyes off of hers. There was such tenderness in his touch. Rebecca wanted. She didn’t know what she wanted. Something. Something to. To what? She felt Ben take her left hand, running his fingers over hers and turning her grandmother’s ring around her finger. She thought of her parents and her grandparents, how happy their marriages had been, and she wondered for just a moment if she could be as happy with Ben. Her eyes misted over and she reached up with her right hand to brush away a tear. Ben practically threw her hand from his.
“I’m sorry,” he said while moving away from her. “I did not think.”
Rebecca had no clue what he was talking about, but she felt the chill whip through the cabin as Ben changed once again into her warden/captain. She held back the sobs pressing to be released. She searched his eyes and saw remorse and, maybe, shame. What had happened?

Could this all be a bad dream? How was she to know? Rebecca had far more questions than answers. Tisbury, Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard The last thing sixth-grade teacher Rebecca O’Neill wants to do during the final week of her summer break is chaperone twenty-five kids on a six-night, seven-day trip aboard the schooner Shenandoah. But after a desperate phone call from the school principal, she doesn’t have a choice. 

Worse, the ship is rumored to be ‘haunted.’ Five years ago, during the Holmes Hole student cruise, teacher Melissa Smith complained about hearing voices and seeing visions, then disappeared without a trace-from the very same cabin where Rebecca will be staying. Everything seems normal on Sunday as Rebecca boards the impressive Shenandoah. But as she sits in Cabin 8, she hears hushed voices that don’t sound like they’re from this century. 

Mike, a crewmember, insists he believes the crazy Island story that Melissa time-traveled to Colonial Boston. His eerie interest in constantly tracking Rebecca’s whereabouts rattles her nerves. Her first night onboard, Rebecca drifts off to sleep…and wakes the following morning with memories of a secretive conversation about a battle with Britain. Monday night Rebecca crawls into her bunk after an adventurous day of sailing, swimming, and overseeing students. 

She’s startled awake when a man grabs her and yells, ‘Stowaway!’ Dragged in front of Captain Benjamin Reed, she looks up into the most gorgeous brown eyes she’s ever seen…. 

A Vineyard Romance. Romance, history, adventure. Get swept into the exciting Winds of Change series. Book 1, Winds of Change.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Romance, Christian
Rating – G
More details about the author
Connect with Lisa Belcastro through Facebook & Twitter

SUMMONED #Excerpt by Rainy Kaye @rainyofthedark #Paranormal #AmReading #BookClub

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I dislike having to murder someone. Kidnapping is worse. At least when I setup a kill, I know what’s coming. No connections, no honesty, no surprises. Everything I say and do are just steps to luring in my victim. Once the victim falls right into the trap, the next move is swift: crushed windpipe, fatal concussion, or a good ol’ fashioned headshot.
Kidnapping, on the other hand, is a little trickier. First, the victim has an opportunity to respond. I don’t like this. Sometimes they cry. Sometimes they manage to alert the authorities. And sometimes they escape, usually by inflicting bodily harm on me.
Dead people don’t retaliate.
The second major difference between killing and kidnapping is my conscience. I get in and out with a kill. We have no chance to bond.
Abductees require a little more one-on-one. As much as I try to keep the switch turned off, I can’t help but listen to their pleas and demands. And I usually realize I’m a jerk.
That’s exactly where I find myself one late afternoon in June. I prefer doing this at night, but moreover, I would prefer not doing this at all.
Instead, I have a belligerent nine year old girl sitting in the passenger seat of my Honda Accord, shackles on her wrists and ankles and a small stuffed bunny on her lap. She’s eying me in a way that makes me self-conscious. Like I’m the bad guy.
Probably because I am the bad guy.
“My dad will shoot you!” She glares at me. “He has lots of guns and knows how to use them good. He’ll shoot you.”
Right now, that feels more like a mercy than a threat.

Twenty-three year old Dimitri has to do what he is told—literally. Controlled by a paranormal bond, he is forced to use his wits to fulfill unlimited deadly wishes made by multimillionaire Karl Walker.
Dimitri has no idea how his family line became trapped in the genie bond. He just knows resisting has never ended well. When he meets Syd—assertive, sexy, intelligent Syd—he becomes determined to make her his own. Except Karl has ensured Dimitri can’t tell anyone about the bond, and Syd isn’t the type to tolerate secrets.
Then Karl starts sending him away on back-to-back wishes. Unable to balance love and lies, Dimitri sets out to uncover Karl’s ultimate plan and put it to an end. But doing so forces him to confront the one wish he never saw coming—the wish that will destroy him.
Summoned is represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA.
Author Bio
Rainy Kaye is an aspiring overlord. In the mean time, she blogs at <a href=></a> and writes paranormal novels from her lair somewhere in Phoenix, Arizona. When not plotting world domination, she enjoys getting lost around the globe, studying music so she can sing along with symphonic metal bands, and becoming distracted by Twitter (<a href=>@rainyofthedark</a>).She is represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA.
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Cover Design: Kris Wagner
Model: Adam Jakubowski
Photographer:  Marcin Rychły