Showing posts with label First Page Showcase. Show all posts
Showing posts with label First Page Showcase. Show all posts

Monday, June 13, 2016

Goodreads Giveaways

I'm giving away two print copies this week on Goodreads.

Capricorn Cravings:

Riley Shaughnessy has the perfect life. Her veterinary practice is thriving, and she loves living in the small town in the Colorado mountains, where no one knows the shocking secret of her past. She loves to gallop her palomino mare across the vast expanse of public land bordering the town, and after a long period of self-denial, she has even committed to a date with handsome horse wrangler, Randy Hansen. 

But now, she knows her assistant, Jamie, would never willingly abandon her child, so why has she disappeared? 

Something dark and sinister is taking place, and it all started on the day hunky Powell Stewart, with the piercing blue eyes, came into her life in a strange and unexpected way. 

Her inner voice tells her to stay as far away from him as she can, but his magnetism drags her toward him and she cannot find the power to resist. 

Click here to enter:

Aquarius Addiction:

Why did hunky Andre Rossouw come into Arlette's life on the same day her doctor told her she was about to die? 

Attractive FBI Psychic Arlette Xylander displays all the character traits of her star sign, Aquarius, being feisty, eccentric, freedom-loving, flirtatious, rebellious and unpredictable. She may be only five feet tall, but she epitomizes the old adage that dynamite comes in small packages. 

Her emotions rage between denial, anger and tears when her doctor tells her she is suffering from a rare terminal disease. When hunky Andre Rossouw asks her to help find his sister who has been missing for four years, Arlette makes two decisions. To beat the disease and find a cure, and to have wild and passionate sex with him. 

Then she finds out he has a fiancĂ©e. 

Click here to enter:

Good luck to all of you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Interview with Charline Ratcliff - Author - Part 2

Do You Believe in Reincarnation? This Writer's Stories Reflect Past Lives. Charline Ratcliff, author of The Curse of Nefertiti has such an interesting life story I have to split the interview into three parts.

Part 1 addressed Charline's young life, her father's abuse, and her life criss-crossing the USA and literally living in the woods. 

Part 5 continues the story...

5. I understand why you left your parents' 'home' at age sixteen. You survived by cleaning houses and working at Burger King. How and where did you live at that time?

Well, long story short, when I managed to leave home it was with the help of two older women who sold regularly at the same Ocala, Florida area Flea Market where my parents had decided they would sell at for a while.
And just to clarify, it was not like I sought either of those women out. They were just older, and more experienced at viewing life. The both of them, (separate from each other), recognized the signs of physical and sexual abuse that was consistently exhibited in the dynamic of my family.
Feeling nothing save for empathy and compassion, each of them approached me in as non-threatening a manner as they were able. Having been hidden away from society’s gaze as much as possible by my parents, I was completely stunned when the older of the two women, (the one who several weeks previously had suggested that I just think of her as family and call her “grandma”), pulled me aside one afternoon when my father was busy with customers.
She sat me down, away from the hustle and bustle of the market, touched my shoulder and said: “Honey, I need to ask you a question.” Now, I’ve always been an intuitive child, and at her words my heart felt like it dropped twenty feet. I’m pretty sure I heard my rib-cage rattle as my heart plummeted past… (Even now as I write this, I’m re-experiencing those same feelings).
If it were physically possible for a person to turn to stone, I’d have turned into a statue at what she asked next: “Has your dad ever sexually abused you?”
I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to feel. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know how to answer her. Without thought, I wept and take note that I chose that word carefully. This wasn’t the crying that comes from normal sadness, nor was it the heartfelt sobbing of someone who has just lost their one true love, instead this was the quiet weeping that comes from feeling the heavy burden of shame. I daresay that only those, unfortunate enough to have experienced this same type of abuse, can fully understand or appreciate the sentiment that I am attempting to express.
She took this moment to wrap her arms around me, holding me as I cried; and she cried with me. Eventually I managed to ask her how she’d known. She told me it was obvious; that anytime any man started to talk to me, my father would appear out of nowhere and then send me away to do something out of sight. “That’s not normal father behavior,” she stated.
She then sent me down to the public restroom, so that I could wash my face and try and sort myself out before I had to return to my parent’s selling space. Before I left though, she told me that she was going to talk with her friend, (the other woman), and that the two of them would figure out some way to help me. Because of her words, I walked away with a much lighter step. I now had something different for which to hope. Up until this point, the only thing that gave me a sense of comfort and control was the calendar that I had previously made for myself that showed me, (daily), the number of days until I turned eighteen. Around that point I was down to 535 days…
She was as good as her word too. The very next weekend, she motioned me over to her booth. Her friend’s daughter, Tenowah, lived in North Jacksonville Beach. She couldn’t get away from work to drive down to get me on that current weekend; however she would be able to the following weekend.
You have no idea how excited I was. And I knew that I would be safe. And that my parents couldn’t find me this time. You see, I had run away twice before; when I was twelve. My first attempt happened on a Friday afternoon, when a class friend and I rode the school bus to her house. My father was there in a matter of hours. I got in major trouble for running away and … for painting my fingernails with a really pretty light pink colored nail polish.
I, of course, always learn from my mistakes. Consequently, when I ran away again a couple of months later, (while it was still planned for Friday after school), this time I went home with a friend whose parents always drove her to/from school. Huzzah! It worked!! I stayed the entire weekend at their house, but I was not entirely without a sense of dread. Just as animals are able to sense what is later recognized as the calm-before-the-storm, so too can I. When Monday arrived, she and I were dropped at school and there was my father… (This was also my last day in public school).
Anyway, the following weekend finally arrived, and wow, had the time dragged by! Around midday, I was covertly informed that Tenowah had arrived; that she was waiting for me in her car by the restrooms. I’d previously gotten my birth-certificate as well as my social security card out of my mother’s filing box, and with those both in my pocket, (and only the clothes on my back), I told my parents that I needed to go down to use the restroom. (This flea market was at a drive-in movie theater. Vendors were allowed to set up their tables in the back section of the drive-in, and the restrooms were attached to the concession building).
As luck would have it, my mother decided that I needed to take my five, and seven year-old brothers with me to the restroom. Thankfully there were only two stalls in the ladies room, so I sent a brother into each one and then sent them back up the hill to where our parents were; on the pretext that it was my turn to use the facilities. Instead, I watched them to ensure they arrived safely and then got into Tenowah’s vehicle. She, (and her roommate Sharon who made the drive with her), were happy to see/help me and we spent the slightly more than two hour drive getting acquainted with each other.
Due to my age, I couldn’t legally work without a parent’s signature on my job application. I did manage to get a work permit because, being sixteen, I was not required to have a physician sign off on my ability to work. And … since you are allowed to pick the application form up and return with it later, I was able to forge my father’s signature. There you have it; I’m now an admitted forger…
I searched the classifieds, plus the various shops in this new location for work, but no one wanted to hire a sixteen-year-old. Luckily, Tenowah was friends with a man named Jed; he was the manager for a Burger King fairly close to us. (This was good as I walked). Burger King was only part-time, and Tenowah recommended me as a house-cleaner to a couple of her friends. They definitely weren’t the most enjoyable jobs, but at least I was able to earn some money.

              6. You wrote and published two children's books. What was the inspiration for those? Did you illustrate them yourself? You are obviously very artistic and right-brained. Do you want to tell us about your photography, art and interior design?

Well, truthfully it was my cat Oreo who inspired The Princess, The Toad & The Whale Series. She was/is just this huge and loveable, yet slightly not-quite-with it kitty. She started out as a short-hair kitten that, ten months later, grew some of the longest fur I’d ever seen on a feline. Consequently, not only was she quite the character, but she was constantly struggling to tame her wild and unkempt hair. Of course, she was never successful in this endeavor… *chuckle* Plus, she truly was a Princess, let me tell you. Although, I do need to state that she was never a Diva. Her personality has always been loving and sweet and if you have food she’s your new forever-friend. She loves wadded up newspaper or sheets of paper and if you throw them she’ll even go fetch them. The Princess in the storybooks truly embodies Oreo’s personality and crazy essence. (Toad and Whale were also inspired, and based on, the other two cats in the household).
As far as illustrating, while I could have eventually gotten to the illustrations myself, I opted to let someone else draw them. (Delegation from a Type A personality, now that’s some personal growth on my part). However, I did work hand-in-hand with my illustrator to ensure that the finished illustrations matched the vision in my head. And yet, I did give her creative license... (Another Type A personality shocker too, right)? This was also a good thing because she remembered that I needed to have those little touches: things like windows and/or artwork on walls, rugs, etc.
Thank you for your compliment re: very artistic/right-brained. In actuality, I am both left and right-brained, but the truth of the matter is that I much prefer to live in the right-side of my brain. Although, I oftentimes wind up becoming an interpreter-of-sorts between those who are extremely left-brained, and their extremely right-brained counterparts… It can be quite difficult for these two types to converse effectively, because their manner of thinking/seeing/relating to the world around them is so much different. Since I speak the “language” of both, I’m a great mediator.
I remember attending a business meeting with a very right-brain only, creative friend of mine. This particular meeting dealt with the technical side of her business and midway through it she became overwhelmed and began to cry. Not because anything untoward had been said or done, but because that was how she coped with what she couldn’t understand. Of course, the poor left-brain, engineer-minded businessman sat across from her; open-mouthed with shock, wearing a deer-in-the-headlights expression of absolute terror…
After everything had been sorted out and cross-explained, she apologized to him for crying. Which in turn prompted him to ask, “Do you always cry in business meetings?”
The truth of the matter is, if one person only speaks Latin and the other speaks only in mathematical equations, without a Rosetta Stone to bridge the languages, how do these two people communicate cogently?

7) Now let's get onto your dreams. You started having vivid dreams of ancient times that you describe as "like going to a theatre and looking at a sped-up five+ hour look at someone's life." Your friend told you your dreams are actually memories of past lives. When you finally started writing down your dreams, you found something amazing. Please explain.

Yes, well there’s a real can of worms… I have consistently found that the topic of dreams can be a controversial and challenging subject. So much can be taken from them, they can have so many meanings, their meanings can change with time, and no one can experience an exact dream or have the same understanding as anyone else.
Dreaming is much like reading a book. Your brain will process the experience based on all the factors of what makes you, well, you. (Life experiences, how you were raised, your personal beliefs, et cetera).
And, let’s face it, the conscious brain can only think about a very limited amount at a time, while the subconscious brain can handle much more. I believe a University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine study has estimated that the conscious brain can only process around 2,000 bits of information per second whereas the subconscious brain processes about 400 billion bits per second. Kind of makes me wonder how much information someone like Einstein could process through his conscious brain per second…
Anyway, with all that said:
I do believe that people can dream about things that will happen in the future; providing they are open to it.
I do believe that dreams can be a way for a “higher power” to communicate with us; if we are open to it.
I do believe that dreams allow the subconscious mind to process past, present and future experiences and then “dumb them down” so our conscious minds can, (hopefully), understand them. I think that one possible reason for recurring dreams, (and only in certain instances), is because the subconscious is trying to get the dreamer to realize and/or understand something that he/she still isn’t grasping.
I do believe that dreams affect our day-to-day lives in a myriad of ways that we may never fully be able to understand.
I do believe that some dreams are also memories of, or from, previous lives.
With regard to my vivid dreams, (the ones that I use as the Prologues for my books), they each feel as though I’m walking through the tired, worn and familiar halls of memory. In these dreams, I feel what happens around me. I hear the birds, smell the water, and feel sand crunch underneath my feet. I can smell the world around me. I can touch and taste; and I have memories within those memories.
In some of my dreams, I’ve watched the library at Alexandria burn; smelled the acrid smoke as it billowed forth. I’ve experienced being a simple scribe and detailing a horrific war between Greeks and Phoenicians. I’ve heard the screams of battle and of the dying.
When I looked for information on this particular dream, I was taken aback to discover how much of it had been reality. The Phoenicians were first known as the Canaanites; it was the Greeks who began calling them Phoenicians, (meaning purple-red), for the dye extracted from the shell-fish.
Later on, the Phoenicians became Carthage/Carthaginians and due to certain Greek factions, and then later the Romans, Carthage and her people were completely eradicated. As in the genocide of an entire race/culture…
Are they past lives? I don’t know. Maybe… My physical body, (taking my brain/logic out of the equation), feels the memories of them; it feels like something akin to having “muscle memory.” Example: you may forget how to ride a bike, but if you get on the bike, your body will remember it for you.
Or, maybe they are simply genetic memories stored within my DNA. Some scientists believe that prehistoric man used to pass down genetic memories…
Or, maybe I just have a great imagination. *chuckle*
Yet, when I attempt to view these dreams as only imagination, my logical side objects on the basis that I should know some/any/most of a dream’s information prior to the experience. Just for the record, wars, (ancient or otherwise), were definitely not one of those subjects that I ever strove to read up on…

See the facinating continuation to this and other questions about Charline's life in the next installment.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

First Page - Aquarius Addiction by Trish Jackson

Aquarius Addiction

Trish Jackson

(To be released by my publisher Soul Mate Publishing just in time for Christmas 2014!)


     "I am not dying," Arlette Xylander banged her hands on the steering wheel and yelled out loud. "I don't have to believe it." She dug in her handbag for a tissue and dabbed at the angry tears. She found a space, pulled to a halt in the parking lot and blew her nose. She let out a gut-wrenching sob and forced back others that wanted to follow.

     She sneered at herself in the mirror. "Get a grip. Now your face is a total mess."

     The label on the eyedrops said they would get the red out. She poured liberal amounts into both eyes, and with shaking hands, she wiped the mascara that had run down her cheeks, her jaw clamped tight. She had to stop her hands from shaking, but how? Her whole body was still reverberating from the shock. Her mouth was dry and her stomach clenched tight.

     She took a deep breath, and another. Would nothing slow down her racing heartbeats? She threw her head back and rested it on the back of the seat. Tears threatened again, but she forced them back.

     Still fighting to control her runaway emotions, she thrust her feet into the red high heel sandals and jumped down from the truck, dragging her handbag with her. She took a few more deep breaths and squared her shoulders.

     A few minutes later she entered the red brick FBI building on shaky legs, and, after showing her ID to security, headed for the elevator.

    She peered through the glass door of Chad Kingsley's office. Another man sat across from him, with his back to the door.

     She unclenched her fists and flexed her fingers, and took a few more deep breaths before she knocked. Chad lifted his gaze from the paperwork, and beckoned. She opened the door and stepped inside, closing it carefully behind her.

     "Arlette. Thanks for coming in so quickly. Let me introduce you." His open palm pointed to the stranger, who stood up and turned around to face her.

     His dark blonde untidy hair framed a square jaw and straight nose. He was heart-stoppingly handsome.

     "Andre Rossouw," his gray-green eyes flicked across her breasts before he lifted them to stare into her face. She noticed an old scar running from the corner of his right eye across his cheek. It didn't detract from his good looks, but rather it made him more interesting. Make that stand-and-stare-with-your-mouth-open handsome. She closed her mouth and took the offered hand.

     "This is Arlette Xylander," she heard Chad speak, but she felt like she was underwater. "The psychic I told you about."

     He held onto her hand for a few seconds more than necessary. "I didn't expect you to be so…" he said, and slowly released his grip.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Backwoods Boogie - Cover Reveal

Backwoods Boogie, the third in my Redneck Series of romantic suspense/comedy novels is due to be released by my publisher in the fall of 2014.

Redneck P.I. Twila Taunton cannot believe she is working for Jimmie-Ray, the man who stood her up on her wedding day.  But she can't allow gentle Pam Taylor to go to prison for a murder she did not commit. 

Twila sets out to hunt down the real killer, with the help of hacker and mean guitarist Gasser Cunha; her hard-drinking great aunt Essie; and office assistant LaMercy Howard, who reluctantly agrees to go Goth. 

When she discovers an illegal puppy mill, and a possible dog fighting ring, Twila calls on a vigilante biker gang and her long distance lover, Harland to help.

Oh… and she might be pregnant. 

Yesterday my editor sent me the cover concept and I love it!!

I'm giving away FREE DOWNLOADS  of Redneck P.I. for a limited time. Click here

I discussed it on my recent posting on Sooz Buchanan's blog.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

First Page - No Kiss Good-Night

The day of his thirty-ninth birthday, relationship counsellor Gus Adams was completely alone. He was supposed to have a birthday bash, surrounded by friends and coworkers, but everyone cancelled for this reason or that. Gus—left with a silly Staples birthday banner and chilled champagne, sans company—realized he had no one upon whom to depend, no one to love.
With sudden determination, Gus decided to find love—real, substantial love—before his dreaded fortieth birthday. After all, he knows how to make a relationship work. He spent his career listening to other people talk about their relationships. He knew what worked and what didn’t, but Gus hadn’t been in a romantic relationship in over ten years, since a heartless vixen tossed him out on the metaphorical curb.

Kevin Zdrill


Realizing I was perilously close to executing an Olympic-quality somersault, I stepped back from the fifteenth-floor railing. My second dismal thought was that no one would know if I had gone over. I was alone inside my Winnipeg apartment. On any other day of the year, the silence was an accepted normal, but today it was a defeat. Today I turned thirty-nine, and I'd had a plan to tackle the dreaded experience with a show of force. With focused determination, I'd gained the commitment of my most cherished friends, family and acquaintances to form a protective circle around me as we celebrated the end of my favourite decade, my thirties.

This morning my phone rang at 9:00 a.m., and I dashed toward it with a large grin, preparing to hear the well-wishes of a thoughtful friend. It was my sister, Julia Adams. She was flying in this afternoon from her home in Minneapolis, one of the guaranteed members of my protective birthday circle. Except today was my birthday and Julia's plane ticket was one weekend off. Julia was calling from the airport—ticket, bag and gift in hand—mere hours away from joining my circle. In her zest for supporting her brother she'd given the airline the wrong date for her day of departure. Julia had a heart of gold but her pocketbook wasn't lined with it. The airline wanted $900 to change her flight. End of the line. Julia asked if it would be okay for her to hang on to my gift until I saw her at Christmas when I came to visit. Yes, it would. Strike one from my protective circle.

I thanked Julia for calling. I still had confidence my remaining troops would take up the slack. I spent the rest of the morning getting silly from blowing up a few coloured balloons I'd bought at the Dollar Store. I chose a stack of CDs to play during the party, including my favourites by Streetheart, Loverboy Harlequin and Neil Young; I pulled out my wrinkled Twister mat in case the party got wild and stuck 39 candles into the vanilla cake I'd bought the day before at Safeway.

Lonny Wood rang my phone at 12:30 p.m. He was my best friend, my only friend, a part of my circle, and it looked like he was not going to show up. Lonny had intended to drive in from Brandon today after selling his cell phones to various farming communities. He explained that while he was having breakfast that morning at the Double Decker Restaurant in Brandon, he'd bumped into a "harem" of girls paying their bills at the same time he did. The girls were heading off to a Passion Party one of the women at Double Decker was hosting. Thirty women equaled thirty potential cell phone sales, maybe a phone number or two for Lonny and a free sex toy thrown in by the hostess. "Business is business," he said. Lonny promised to drop off my birthday gift the next time we got together.

After Lonny bailed on my final thirties party, slight panic set in, but I pulled out the two bottles of Barefoot champagne that I had chilling in the fridge and left two champagne glasses in the cupboard. I set the bottles on the kitchen table alongside the remaining three glasses. I liked that odd number. It was lucky.

Monday, March 3, 2014

First Page - Only Love Twice

A Cross-Cultural Romance by Kat Canfield

In the aftermath of 9/11 Americans have largely become suspicious of persons of Saudi heritage. But a fifty-something retired police officer from South Florida takes a chance in meeting a man a bit younger than her who is a Saudi National. Being a businessman who grew up in England as the son of a diplomat, he is used to western ways.

Communicating through the Internet and smartphones, Madison and Saleem become friends and find they share much in common. Madison is a widow of two years whose driving passions are her horse showing and her business. She has no children so her horse is her child. Meanwhile Saleem is an oil company executive, divorced, with four children and a bit of a playboy reputation. To further complicate matters, Madison is Jewish. But she has a curiosity about the Muslim faith and a love of the Middle East in general. Can these two polar opposites find the second love of their lives in a post 9/11 world?

Chapter 1

     How the world had changed in a few short years. No one could do anything without a computer, and everyone had a phone in his or her pocket. There was nothing you could not do with a computer and a smartphone. And the technology made it so easy to make money now. Who would have thought you could become a millionaire with a webcam and a domain name? The fifty-something
red-haired wonder had done just that. Madison made her millions selling sex to perverts on the Internet. Well, maybe not all of them were perverts. They were just faceless persons who watched
the women she employed perform for the camera. The girls enjoyed getting paid to perform as solo acts, and they did not have to see the people they performed for. It was a nice combination for them.

     Madison Kelly, though anonymous, made a few friends of the customers. No one saw her face or knew her true name. They just chatted online, told her things they would like to see, and she told the girls what someone wanted to see. They did the work; she did the selling. What was the old saying? A fool and his money are soon parted. That was how her business ran for the past few years.

     She had recently met a person online who captured her attention. The problem with anonymous Internet is you can’t tell about someone just by chatting, but she felt sure this was a man and he interested her. They had been chatting for about eight months. One of the short flicks she had posted showed an Arab woman pleasuring herself. The woman wore a veil so her face could not be seen. He seemed to think that would never happen as Arab men would never let a woman have needs of pleasure without him taking care of those needs. That conversation evolved to a friendship online. Now she thought she would like to take the next step and see the face behind the conversation. She...

Click here to Buy now from Amazon

Friday, October 11, 2013

First Page - My First Travel Book

This book serves as an educational, fun and entertaining reading for children 3 – 10 years of age. It reflects on travelling to some of the world’s most famous landmarks and popular destinations around the world. The book consists of fun rhymes and important information. The creative and bright illustrations are a great discussion topic for both the children and parents. It makes a lovely gift from parent or grandparent to child.

My First Travel Book

Anna Othitis

Welcome aboard Angelic Airlines. This is Captain Frankie, and I will be flying you to some of the most popular places around the world. Please fasten your seat belts, make yourselves comfortable, and get ready to take off on a wondrous journey.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

First Page - Shadows Along the Zambezi

Author, Diana M. Hawkins has penned an action-packed thriller in which a couple battles poachers, ivory traffickers, and corrupt officials to protect embattled herds of elephants in Zimbabwe’s eastern Zambezi Valley.
Seven years after the brutal murders of his wife and children during a violent, government-sanctioned farm invasion, Pieter van Rooyen focuses his energies on trying to save wildlife in Zimbabwe’s national parks. In 2008, their beleaguered and underfunded staffs are helpless to stop rampant poaching, as depicted in a gut-wrenching scene where a dozen men wielding automatic rifles slaughter a family group of elephants for their ivory tusks. Jessica Brennan, a doctoral candidate studying elephants in the Zambezi Valley, joins forces with Pieter to pursue the poachers, who are working in collusion with a phony Zambian travel agency to supply a Chinese diplomat.
Jessica and Pieter’s pursuit leads to her kidnapping and a suspenseful confrontation in a Zambian warehouse. Interspersed throughout the human drama are realistic accounts of the elephants’ interactions, both in times of joy and tragedy, which will rend readers’ heartstrings. In the end, however, what lingers in readers’ memories is the sorrowful portrait of Zimbabwe, a nation whose leaders have squandered its magnificent natural resources for short-term political and financial gain.

Shadows along the Zambezi
Diana M. Hawkins

Tuesday April 3, 2001

            Sandie van Rooyen was angry and upset. Her husband should never have left her and the children alone on their Zimbabwe farm. Robert Mugabe’s brutal land invasions were on the rise.
            Why did he take the Cessna and fly off to Harare, just to collect tractor parts? If he’d waited, they’d have been delivered by the end of the week. Surely a day or two’s delay in the plowing didn’t matter that much. She thumped the dining room table with her fist, hurt by his obvious disregard for his family’s safety.
            Before he left, he’d pulled her into his arms. “You’ll be fine,” he had assured her with his usual air of confidence. His kiss had lingered long, and for a brief moment or two, it seemed to erase all her fears. Then with a spring in his step, he walked away.
          “Don’t worry Sandie,” he called out, as he turned to wave goodbye. “I’ve left a shotgun with Shoriwa and I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon; before you know it. You’ve got the emergency radio, remember.”
          “Don’t worry?” Sandie scoffed under her breath as she watched him disappear. “That’s easy for you to say.”

          Several hours later, she felt somewhat more composed. Nonetheless, the possibility of an impending attack still bothered her. In the sewing room, she found her nine-year-old daughter, Bernice, hunched over the Singer, trying to sew a straight seam. Sandie realized her daughter was frustrated since a wiggly line of stitches was the best she could do.
          “Mummy, I can’t get it to stay straight.” Bernice frowned, tossing back a head of blonde curls. “The silly machine keeps pulling the material crooked.”
          “Sweetheart, the secret is to guide the fabric, using the lightest touch. You aren’t in a tug-of-war with the machine, you know.” Sandie lifted the Singer’s sewing foot. She snipped the...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

First Page - Dare to Flee by Phil Graham

 The Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert are a threatened species. They are being forced from an area they have occupied for 30,000 years, by the Botswana Government so that diamonds can be mined. 
In an exciting story, Xai, a Busman hunter embarks on a journey to save some of the Bushman and also to hunt down his deadly enemy.

Dare to Flee

Phil Graham


The Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert are an ancient tribe dating back 20000 years. They were the original inhabitants of the Cape and the mountainous areas of Kwa Zulu Natal and traces of them have been found over much of South Africa. The mere fact that they exist to this day is in no small way attributable to their ability to survive.

The arrival of the white man in South Africa began in the seventeenth century and shortly after their arrival, they began to decimate the vast herds of wild game, upon which the Bushmen depended. In retaliation for this slaughter, the Bushmen began plundering the white man’s livestock, and so began a war that the Bushman could not win.

In 1802 the African tribes were decimated by a famine that set the tribes to warring amongst themselves. These wars inevitably involved the Bushmen who were driven from their traditional hunting areas and ended up in the Drakensberg Mountains, bordering South Africa and Lesotho. The whites continued to encroach on the Bushmen’s territory and the warring blacks continued to slaughter their people until, in 1869, the last settlement of Bushmen was decimated.

There were, however some survivors and these hardy people fled to a place where neither the black tribes nor the white settlers were willing or indeed able to live. This was the vast thirstland known as the Kalahari. The Kalahari, like many deserts, has no surface water and any water that exists, is to be found underground, where the Bushmen suck it up with hollow reeds. It is in this inhospitable land that most of the current day Bushmen live.

The Bushmen are keen conservationists; they never kill unless the animal is to be used as food and even when they have killed an animal, they offer thanks to the animal’s soul for the food that it has supplied. They are experts at mixing plants to make poisons and medical remedies and are able to identify over three hundred different plant types.

The Bushman’s relationship with the earth has been described as “An inspiring model of the powerful connection possible between nature and the higher self “

Is it surprising then, that the Bushman is one of nature’s hardiest survivors?


Youtube Video

Saturday, September 21, 2013

First Page - The Undying Love by Greg McCabe

For Diane and Jackson, life is just about perfect. They’re healthy, happy, and madly in love with one another. Unknown to them, a virus is sweeping across the globe that instantly kills the infected and turns their corpses into mindless, murdering cannibals. In short: zombies have taken over the planet.

Diane and Jackson find out about the epidemic the hard way when their wedding is crashed by friends and family who have succumbed to the virus. Now, fighting for survival, they're faced with unthinkable decisions.

Follow their story across Southeast Texas as they meet unforgettable characters and face challenges that will put their love, and lives to the ultimate test.

The Undying Love

Greg McCabe

Sirens & Screams

Right now, my life is perfect.
She smiled at the thought and looked at herself in the mirror. She had dreamt of this day since being a child, but never imagined she would actually look this beautiful. Her hair and make-up were professionally done and her arms were toned from months of sculpting curls. The all-white dress popped against her subtle tan.
Diane continued to study herself in the mirror as she took a sip of her mimosa. 

She stayed in the Honeymoon Suite with her mother the night before. They had breakfast sent up by room service when they woke. A Denver omelet for Diane and a big Belgium waffle for mom, but they ended up sharing both plates. After a quick shower, they took the elevator down to the ‘Spa/Pool’ level of the high-end hotel and checked in for their 10:30 am massages.
After an amazing sixty minute massage, the pair headed back up to the honeymoon suite where they waited for the bridesmaids to arrive. The ladies were to meet around noon for their 1:00 pm appointments in the hotel salon for hair styling, manicures, pedicures, and make-up.
Emma and Erin drove together and arrived first. Diane’s maid of honor, Cathy, arrived next, followed by Anna, Julie, and Kristen. Last to arrive was Carrie, Diane’s only hometown friend in the wedding. The rest were friends from college—seven wonderful ladies in all.
After a couple hours of pampering in the salon, the ladies headed back up to the suite to change into their dresses. From the neck up, they were immaculate, with pristine make-up and hair, but from the neck down, they were sloppy, wearing t-shirts, cotton shorts, and flip flops.
The ceremony was to be held in the courtyard of the hotel with the reception in the ballroom on the second floor. Diane always thought she would be married in a church, but the convenience of having the ceremony and the reception at the same venue was too much to deny. Besides, the courtyard of the hotel was lovely. Located in the Uptown...

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

First Page - Gape by Aiden Truss

When Rose woke up in her favourite shop doorway, she was resigned to yet another day of hunger, struggle and abuse. This was life on the streets after all.

What she wasn’t prepared for, was a visit from a demon, an invitation back to his temporally insubstantial sanctuary, and forced to take sides in a battle involving most of the denizens of hell. Oh, and a boat trip down the river Thames.

After a disappointing start to the day, things were about to get a bit more interesting…


Aiden Truss


Separated by those vast and normally insuperable gulfs of space, time and imagination, two beings sit at the crossroads of their lives - one human, and one something more than human. Both feel the weight of their existence and a solitude born of their introspection and contemplation. Both are equally lost and shackled by their seeming impotence in the face of the storm blowing around them.
Of all the different types of crises we face, it is the internal, personalised ones which hit hardest, cut the deepest and yet teach us the most valuable lessons. In that sense, it makes not one jot of difference that one of our protagonists is a female human and the other a male demon. As we shall find, near omnipotence does not denote omniscience and incapacity need not mean weakness.
Life cuts through complications – it’s just that we seldom step back and allow it to take its course. We always assume that there is a point, that there is something more to it all than a series of contiguous moments, a chain of causes and effects – that there must be a cosmic narrative and a divine plan. Sometimes it’s handy to know what’s around the next bend in the road, but still, we must negotiate that bend and the change of direction that it brings. Whether you’re a milkman or a 7th level demon, you still have to get your head around your day job and the challenges and satisfaction that it may or may not bring. In Paradise Lost, that shrewd observer of the eternal struggle, John Milton, wrote:
The mind is its own place, and in itself,
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.

It was poetic license – Satan never really had to jump to such conclusions, but you get the gist don’t you. It’s where you’re at in your head that defines the world around you. For this reason, our tale is set in recognizable worlds, with familiar terms of reference. The everyday world of humanity is set in the unremarkable London suburb of Bromley. I would have used Croydon for a setting, but this might have placed us nearer to purgatory in terms of imaginative leaps. (Papers recently unearthed during Dan Brown’s search through Vatican records reveal that the medieval Catholic Church considered calling the transitory state between Heaven and Hell ‘Croydon’, but were persuaded differently by its connotations of helplessness and despair; at least in purgatory there’s the hope of something better to come!).
The universe, or cosmos as your author has chosen to describe it (paints a bigger picture than just ‘universe’ don’t you think?), is full of different levels of life and evolution. Creatures living in dimensions unknown to traditional science co-exist in areas of space occupied by more conventional life-forms. Every so often, these planes intersect and cross over. Hence we have unexplained sightings, strange craters in the wilderness, ghosts and silly old women making a fair living at pretending to be psychics. None of which are the least bit extraordinary if you have a tiny inkling of the true nature of the...

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

First Page - North Dark by Lane Kareska

Set in a lonesome and barbarous failed state, North Dark is the story of a lone man traveling by dogsled across a frozen wasteland in pursuit of the fugitive who destroyed his family.

Haunted by predators both physical and spectral, the musher’s journey takes him across a deadened tundra, tortured cities and the remains of civilizations long-lapsed into madness. All the while, his enemy slides in and out of striking distance, always one step ahead, always one act of violence away.

North Dark

Laye Kareska


     Treesplitter sees that his sons neither hear nor understand him, so he waves his whipping torch and they all spread out to search the ice caves. His sons are capable, not useless. His gloved hand clenches the stalk of the torch as he enters the ribbed blue socket of a nameless tunnel he played in many times as a child and teenager. The windhowl shuts off as he passes into the low slung shaft. The light of his torch flaps on the icerimed ceiling and walls. Once he is far enough within to no longer feel the sharp scrape of wind on his face, he throws back his foxfur hood, searches the ground for footprints in the frost, and sees none. That does not mean he is in no danger. That does not mean the fugitive is not just ahead of him, hiding in the dark, blade drawn. Treesplitter grips his sharpest knife and advances quietly.

     He has been through this before. Men, desperate men, come through his village several times a year. Some criminals, others victims, but the hard and fast local law is to turn all away. There is no room. No space for unknowns. Once, years ago, on a similar adventure, he had been forced to kill two men in a cave like this. He never did learn from what they were running, but they had carried short, nicked knives and wild looks in their eyes and that was enough.

     The grim weight of resolve settles over him. There is a good chance he will murder soon.

     Murder. Best not to call it that. Protection. Protection of his family, those he loves, those he fathers, the woman he husbands. He touches the ice wall with his fingers. This is the spot where he first made love to Prairie thirty years ago. Neither of them has been with another since.

     He looks down at the icy ground and gives a small laugh for the young and hotheaded boy he once was. It is unthinkable how much time has changed him. Tamed him even.

     He moves down the tunnel until he reaches the first hard bend. He bites his knife and transfers the torch to his left hand. He reaches for the leather sack looped through his belt, sets it on the ground, opens the mouth and lets loose the three gray ridge mice within. The rasping animals, each as long as river trout, circle him. He waves them forward with his torch and they run into the darkness of the tunnel ahead. He stands there listening for long seconds. He scrapes the flat of his knife against his beard. Fugitives. Ruffians. He has better things to do, village work to complete, tasks to administer, supper to eat. The temperature drops a few degrees and he reminds himself that he had better keep his mind on the job at hand. Tougher men than he have been lost to simple scoundrels before.

     The high whine of the ridge mice ahead. A long, panicked squeal. One of the cries cuts off and, a moment later, two of the mice race past his feet, darting away. He holds the torch forward, illuminating another few yards of blue cave and the twisted, enraged face of the snowbear lumbering toward him on enormous paws. The creature’s small eyes flash and its fur glows blue in the strange halflight of the tunnel.

     Treesplitter’s eyes widen in alarm and he throws the torch at the beast. The bear ignores the fire bouncing from his chest and charges the man before him. Treesplitter lowers himself, crouches ...

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