Aicha Zoubair

Jessica Bell

Saturday, May 31, 2014

#Excerpt from "Night's Favour" by Richard Parry @TactualRain #BookClub #Action #Fantasy

Val felt like he’d been hit by a car.
Curling over the bowl, he retched again, hands shaking.  He didn’t remember waking up; he didn’t remember getting home, or what might have happened after his tenth beer last night.  He hoped it was only a night — he had a big meeting with the boss this morning.
It wouldn’t be the first time he’d lost days of time down the bottom of a bottle.
“Get your shit together, Val.”  He spat into the bowl, bracing himself on the edge of the porcelain.  Standing up shakily, he felt the nausea rise and curled back over, retching again.  He failed to get his tie out of the way this time, and it came back out of the bowl covered in —
How in God’s name was he wearing a tie?  He didn’t even have any pants.
He tried standing again, this time managing to get to his feet.  Holding himself up on the walls of the toilet, he controlled the shuddering, awful urge to throw up.  He spat into the bowl again then hit the flush button.
Slowly — and quietly — he made his way out of the toilet and into the bathroom.  He caught a glimpse of stubble in the mirror on the wall and felt confident it was only a night gone.  Maybe if he could just get in to the office before nine — God, what time is it now? — it’d be ok.
He pulled back the mirror, his fleshy reflection pushed aside as he exposed a collection of white bottles set against a backdrop of tired cardboard boxes, tubes of expired ointment, and half-empty boxes of Band-Aids.  The bulk box of store-brand acetaminophen came away disturbingly light — I bought that just last week — and he tossed the empty hundred box to the ground, hand trembling towards the Pentazine.  Expensive gold, he dry-swallowed four of the tabs.  Motion sickness be damned; the drug would take the edge off wanting to throw up his feet.  He chased it with some ibuprofen, a generic brand in a white box of fifty.
He started up a good lather to get rid of the stubble.  It was then he noticed that his left arm’s shirt sleeve was missing, ripped off by the looks of it.  The shirt wasn’t in great shape overall; it had that creaseless arrogance that only came with being rained on.  The sleeve was missing from the elbow down, give or take, the frayed end of a blue thread trailing to wrist level.  He’d been lying in a pool of good Merlot unless he missed his guess, the sleeve and side of the shirt a gentle pink.  The thought of Merlot almost made him heave the pills back up, so he stripped off the shirt and let it drop to the floor alongside the empty box.  If he just left all that crap there Baitan would sort it out later.
His belly wasn’t an admirable sight, the booze and the desk job leaving their toll, the flab hanging out over his underwear.  John kept nagging him like an old woman, saying he needed to get back to the gym, do some exercise.  There was time for that later — it was important to get more drugs, and maybe shave, if he was going to get to work today.
Focus, Val.

Valentine’s an ordinary guy with ordinary problems. His boss is an asshole. He’s an alcoholic. And he’s getting that middle age spread just a bit too early. One night — the one night he can’t remember — changes everything. What happened at the popular downtown bar, The Elephant Blues? Why is Biomne, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, so interested in him — and the virus he carries? How is he getting stronger, faster, and more fit? And what’s the connection between Valentine and the criminally insane Russian, Volk?
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Action, Thriller, Urban Fantasy
Rating – R16
More details about the author
 Connect with Richard Parry on Facebook & Twitter

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rising Tide: Dark Innocence #Excerpt by Claudette Melanson @Bella623 #YA #Romance #Paranormal

The bell rang, and we all moved to take our trays to the dishwasher.  I was trying to imagine whether Caelyn would be happy or not about my intended gift, so I really wasn’t paying much attention to where I was walking, my eyes focused on the half brownie I’d left uneaten in the corner of the tray.  I jerked my head up as I crashed into the back of the boy in front of me.  I watched in horror as my opened, but untouched, milk carton tipped over to soak the back of his dark, blue shirt, from the middle of his back to his waist.  It would be my luck that Wendy was right across from me in the second line.  She doubled over with laughter, dropping her own tray to the ground with a resounding clatter.  Every head in the lunchroom turned in our direction.
My face was so hot I felt like my head might explode.  I wanted to run away…desperately.  But my feet remained frozen to the floor, my face a mask of horror, waiting for the wrath of the human in front of me to rain down on my head.  He turned around slowly, his large, brown eyes full of shock.  I’d seen him around the school.  A senior.  My heart bounced out palpitations of fear.
Despite that, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful he was.
“Wow…that is cold!”  Not exactly what I was expecting, but he could have said way worse.
“I-I-Oh my god, I’m so sorry,” I stammered.
He smiled…smiled…at me then.  It was one of those smiles that you know the person is putting their whole heart into.  His brown hair fell over his forehead, to one side, in careless bangs, the rest was long, tied into a ponytail that fell halfway down his back.  Before he’d turned around I hadn’t missed that the ends of it were also milksoaked, like his poor shirt.  He had full lips that were the perfect shade of pink, like the inside of a seashell.  They were spread wide in that cherubic smile of his.  Despite my terror, I was instantly smitten.

Rising Tide will sink it’s teeth into you, keeping you awake into the wee hours of the night
Maura’s life just can’t get any worse…or can it?
Isolated and sheltered by her lonely mother, Maura’s never been the best at making friends. Unusually pale with a disease-like aversion to the sun, she seems to drive her classmates away, but why?
Even her own father deserted her, and her mother, before Maura was born. Bizarre physical changes her mother seems hell bent on ignoring, drive Maura to fear for her own life. And her luck just seems to get worse.
Life is about to become even more bewildering when her mother’s abrupt…and unexplained…decision to move a country away sets off a chain of events that will change Maura forever. A cruel prank turned deadly, the discovery of love and friendship….and its loss, as well as a web of her own mother’s lies, become obstacles in Maura’s desperate search for a truth she was never prepared to uncover.
Featured on one of the most popular health blogs on the internet as a giveaway!
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Genre – YA Paranormal Romance
Rating – PG
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Saturday, May 24, 2014

A LADY IN FRANCE by Jennie Goutet @ALadyInFrance #Memoir #AmReading #Excerpt

I was destined to take root in France. I know that now, even if I didn’t know it back when I had the dream. This path was ordained for me as surely as my brown hair and green eyes, my ample flesh set on an Anglican frame. My path was ordained for me as surely as yours was, even if it’s just a whispered promise from a distant dream.
Of course it’s only now, mid-journey, that everything starts to form a picture that resembles something—the rich-hued threads of identity woven together, the nearly forgotten events tied in tiny silk knots—all this has transformed itself into a tapestry of a story, almost without my perceiving it.
My journey begins in Avignon, on the bare fringes of adulthood. It seems fitting, somehow, that my story would start in a place that was both the beginning of a path taken and the source of closure—the healing of a wound that had been gouged out by grief. It wasn’t with any set purpose that I returned to Provence in the time of my sadness, but our family’s visit there collided in sharp contrast—who I had been, with who I was now—the hope with the loss, with the hope again. And it was with this sense of heightened awareness that I walked down the broad cobblestone streets towards the Pope’s palace in Avignon for the first time in twenty-three years.
I kept holding off from taking pictures, confident that I would stumble upon that special square or shop or street that would unleash all the memories from a period I now regard as a turning point. I kept looking around for something to hold onto that would bring me full circle, but two decades soften the details. Time shrouds in foreignness what was once a significant city to me.
I was nineteen when I landed on French soil for the first time, shedding everything that was familiar and comfortable in my decision to study abroad junior year. And in the strangeness that had given way to daily habit, I stepped off the city bus in the small town center of Montfavet, and started walking towards the house I was staying in for those few months. I was alone on this particular day, as my roommate, Jamie, had decided to linger a bit in Avignon. The small non-descript square, which held the bus stop, led to the country road away from city traffic and bus fumes. And I was grateful, for once, that I lived so far outside the city.
My surroundings were delightfully foreign to me. The pastures on the right where sheep grazed were quartered into small, green patches of grass by low-lying trees and tall bushes. The scent of burning leaves brought gentle notions of fall to my senses, without accosting my nostrils. A few large stone manors intermingled with more modern houses—the former set back on the hill and the latter bordering the street with thick cement fences. Just ahead on my left was a larger field with a straight row of tall trees, dividing the space in two. Breathing in the crisp air on this deserted road was like breathing in the spirit of adventure.
After a twenty-minute walk, I reached the house in which I spent those few months. I turned into the tall, wrought-iron gates—left permanently open with their flaking white paint—and headed down the gravel path towards the back of the house. The dog bounded towards me, but he knew me by now.
When I walked around to the front of the house and opened the heavy wooden doors, I found the interior as still as a crypt. The floors, stairwell, and steps of the corridor, all made of grey stone, were cloaked in the shadows of late afternoon. I turned to open the door on the right, which led to the echoing living room, whose threadbare oriental rug didn’t completely cover the floor. No one was there. I then peered into the study on the other side of the corridor and saw the matriarch of eight children, sitting at her messy desk and staring straight ahead, lost in a cloud of smoke.

At seventeen, Jennie Goutet has a dream that she will one day marry a French man and sets off to Avignon in search of him. Though her dream eludes her, she lives boldly—teaching in Asia, studying in Paris, working and traveling for an advertising firm in New York.
When God calls her, she answers reluctantly, and must first come to grips with depression, crippling loss, and addiction before being restored. Serendipity takes her by the hand as she marries her French husband, works with him in a humanitarian effort in East Africa, before settling down in France and building a family.
Told with honesty and strength, A Lady in France is a brave, heart- stopping story of love, grief, faith, depression, sunshine piercing the gray clouds—and hope that stays in your heart long after it’s finished.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Jennie Goutet on Facebook & Twitter

Friday, May 23, 2014

#Author Chat with Tracy Weber @TracyWeberTypes #Mystery #GoodReads

How do you work through self-doubts and fear? 
This is a biggie for me, because although I seem pretty self-confident, I am riddled with self-doubt when I try something new. (Starting a mystery series, for example.) I work it through by talking about my goals. Telling my husband or a friend that I’m going to do something makes me feel obligated to follow through.
It doesn’t even seem to matter if the person I tell encourages or discourages me. Simply saying my intention out loud makes it happen.
What makes you happiest? 
Spending time with my dog, Tasha. Walking her through our neighborhood, chasing sticks, befriending crows, rubbing the soft spot behind her ear. No matter what we do, Tasha seems to love it. She has taught me so much about the sheer joy of being alive. Being with her almost always makes me smile.
What’s your greatest character strength? 
Pure, dogged perseverance. Once I decide to do something, I rarely give up until it’s done—especially if somebody tells me I can’t do it. I have accomplished a lot of things in my life that people attribute to luck. I don’t really think it’s that. There are certainly people out there more talented than I am, but most of my successes happened because I refused to give up.
What’s your weakest character trait?
Self-doubt, which seems sort of contradictory to perseverance as my greatest character strength. I may have dogged perseverance, but I doubt myself every step of the way. I’m working on that.
What motivates you to write?
Deadlines, even if they are self-imposed. Once I have a firm due date in my mind, I will drive myself crazy trying to beat it. Beyond that, writing taps into a creative side of me that I never knew existed. It’s incredibly fun to let my mind play.
What writing are you most proud of? (Add a link if you like) 
One of my writing goals is to raise awareness of a rare genetic issue called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) that occurs primarily—although not exclusively—in German shepherd dogs. My own dog lives with EPI. I hope to assure owners of animals with this condition that EPI is not a death sentence, and that dogs with EPI go on to live extraordinary lives.
I recently had the opportunity to write an article for Kings River Life Magazine that profiled three dogs that had been abandoned due to EPI and the angels that rescued them. That article was the first time that I knew my fiction writing had a purpose beyond mere entertainment. The article is at this link, right below the review of my book.
Who is your favorite author?
I have so many favorite authors that I can’t really pick just one. But I have to give a special shout out to Susan Conant, author of the Dog Lover’s Mystery series because that series inspired me to write my own. How can she notbe my favorite?
What genre of books do you adore?
I’m a cozy mystery girl through and through, but I also like some darker mysteries and the occasional legal thriller, though haven’t read one in quite some time.
Are there any books you really don’t enjoy?
I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t enjoy reading excessive swearing or graphic violence, and I tend to skim over most sex scenes. That’s probably why I enjoy cozy mysteries so much. I particularly dislike dark humor, whether I’m reading it or watching it in a movie. Monty Python movies, for example, make me cringe. And I’ve walked out on more than one parody that everyone around me seemed to love.
What do you hope your obituary will say about you?
That I lived life fully, made a difference in people’s lives, and that the world will be a better place because I was a part of it. In the end, our lives are mainly defined by the tracks we leave behind. I hope mine are worth following.
Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
I grew up on a dairy farm in Billings, Montana, and I attended grades one through eight in a tiny schoolhouse with about fifty students and four teachers. I moved to Seattle for college and I sort of took root here. I currently live in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood of Seattle, which is a wonderful neighborhood with a true sense of community. That’s one of the things I like most about Seattle: each neighborhood has its own unique culture and feel. I look forward to exploring many different Seattle subcultures in my series.

When George and Bella—a homeless alcoholic and his intimidating German shepherd—disturb the peace outside her studio, yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s Zen-like calm is stretched to the breaking point. Kate tries to get rid of them before Bella scares the yoga pants off her students. Instead, the three form an unlikely friendship.
One night Kate finds George’s body behind her studio. The police dismiss his murder as a drug-related street crime, but she knows George wasn’t a dealer. So Kate starts digging into George’s past while also looking for someone to adopt Bella before she’s sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer nipping at her heels, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.
Cozy fans will eagerly await the next installment.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Murder Strikes a Pose, by Tracy Weber, is a delightful debut novel featuring Kate Davidson, a caring but feist yoga teacher . . . Namaste to Weber and her fresh, new heroine!” PENNY WARNER,AUTHOR OFHOW TO DINE ON KILLER WINE
“[T]his charming debut mystery . . . pieces together a skillful collage of mystery, yoga, and plenty of dog stories against the unique backdrop of Seattle characters and neighborhoods. The delightful start of a promising new series. I couldn’t put it down!” WAVERLY FITZGERALD, AUTHOR OF DIAL C FOR CHIHUAHUA
“Three woofs for Tracy Weber’s first Downward Dog Mystery, Murder STrikes a Pose. Great characters, keep-you-guessing plot, plenty of laughs, and dogswhat more could we want? Ah, yesthe next book!” SHEILA WEBSTER BONEHAM, AUTHOR OF DROP DEAD ON RECALL
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Cozy Mystery
Rating – PG
More details about the author
Connect with Tracy Weber on Facebook & Twitter

TO LOVE A CAT #Excerpt by Billi Tiner @TinerBooks #Romance #Contemporary #Fiction

Catherine James stared hard at the photo she held in her hands. The face of a sullen, 13-year-old boy stared back at her. He had thick, black hair and dark green eyes, almost the same shade of green as Catherine’s own eyes. She felt her heart lurch at the pain she saw reflected there. She looked up at the woman sitting on the other side of the desk she faced. Stacy Shields was a social worker for the Department of Social Services, Children’s Division. Her blue eyes sparkled with intensity as she met Cat’s gaze. Short brown hair framed her plump face. She smiled encouragingly.
“When I decided to become a foster parent, I thought I’d be taking in a little girl. I never considered fostering a teenage boy,” Cat commented.
“I know,” Stacy replied. “But Ethan needs to go to a home where he’s the only child. Since his father signed away his parental rights a few months ago, he’s been in two different foster homes. They each had other kids, and they just weren’t a good fit. Ethan’s extremely bright. I really feel that given the right environment, he could blossom into a special young man. I also think he’ll do better in a home where there isn’t a man around. His father was very abusive. His mother was non-existent. She left them when Ethan was just a baby. He needs the nurturing influence of a mom.”
Catherine, “Cat” as she was called by her friends, looked down at the photo. Can I do this? she wondered. She ran a hand through her thick, red hair and sighed. She didn’t really have a choice, did she?
She’d decided a long time ago that she would offer a child the help she never received. She’d been raised by parents who had beaten her for the hell of it and then kicked her out when she was 15. She’d dropped out of school and taken any odd job she could get her hands on. When she’d turned 18, she’d gotten her GED and scored well enough on the ACT to earn a scholarship to college. It took her six years to finish school because she’d had to work full-time to make up for what the scholarship money didn’t cover. Now, at 30, she was the lead accountant for a large corporation. She liked her job. It was steady, no surprises. Working numbers was a black-and-white issue. Her life was neat and tidy, the way she liked it. She was in complete control. What would happen if she threw a troubled teenage boy into the mix? Would she be able to handle the certain chaos that would follow? She knew it wouldn’t be easy.
She looked back up. Stacy met and held her gaze. Cat slowly nodded. “Okay, I’ll take him.”
Stacy grinned. “Great!” she exclaimed. “I’ll bring him by tomorrow. What time should we get there?”
The next day was Saturday. “Any time after eight in the morning,” Cat replied.
“Okay, I’ll bring him at nine. I truly believe this will work out for both of you.” She stood and embraced Cat. They’d become close friends over the last few months as Cat had gone through the foster parenting classes. Stacy wasn’t sure why, but she felt confident Ethan and Cat would be a good match. She’d been a social worker for a long time, and she’d developed a sixth sense about these things. This felt right.

From the author of “Dogs Aren’t Men” comes “To Love a Cat”, a contemporary romance novel.
Catherine “Cat” James’ life is simple and orderly, and she likes it that way. She loves her job as an accountant. Working with numbers is safe and routine, no surprises. Her childhood had been very abusive and unstable. She vowed not to live that way as an adult. She also made a promise to herself to become a foster parent. She wished someone had been there for her as a teenager, to let her know she wasn’t alone.
Cat agrees to foster Ethan Summers, a troubled teenage boy whose childhood closely resembles her own. Suddenly, her nice and orderly life is filled with chaos and uncertainty. Things really start to spin out of control when circumstances bring police detective Mitch Holt into the picture. He’s handsome, charming, and definitely not what Cat needs right now, or so she thinks.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – PG
More details about the author
Connect with Billi Tiner on Facebook & Twitter

Troy McCombs On Becoming A Writer @sonne3 #Horror #AmWriting #AmReading

I’ve always loved to tell stories… especially scary ones. I can remember getting lots of ideas and inspiration from watching horror movies as a precocious child. From Amityville to Evil Dead, from Friday the 13th to Nightmare on Elm Street, I sucked up horror like a vacuum and never let it go.
Or perhaps it never let me go.
I was about nine when I wrote my first story. Our teacher wanted the students to write a story for class credit. I ended up writing a story about a Native American who’s trying to get away from the settlers. The man ends up falling face-first into a campfire and getting a lizard (which somebody had been cooking) melted to his face. Consequently, he has to live the rest of his days as a freak.
Not exactly horror, but that’s where I began. I distinctly recall falling in love with the craft instantly. I said: “Here’s what I want to do: tell stories.” It filled a void in my life; does still.
Looking back, I can also remember the first two books I ever purchased: Clive Barker’s Books of Blood and H.P. Lovecraft’s Lurking Fear and other Stories. Despite the big words and complicated prose, I ate them up. Early on, Lovecraft became my favorite author of the genre. No other writer has ever given me chills the way he has. Even today many of his stories resonate with me, twenty years later. I skipped Stephen King for the longest time, mainly because 1000 page books seemed like a lot to digest. Nowadays I read quite a bit of his work.
So what is it about horror that I like so much? What do I find so fun about trying to scare people?
Well, since I was young—even before I started writing—I’ve had a severe social anxiety that lasts to this very day. I have panic attacks in crowded places, have great difficultly socializing with people I don’t know, and have been stigmatized by my peers because I’m so different. I guess I’ve always felt like I was a monster (like in Lovecraft’s The Outsider) from society’s standpoint; and that from mine, society was the monster. Writing helps set me free.
That’s me in a nutshell, no pun intended.
My novel, Imaginary Friend, is about a tormented young boy named Nathan Stevenson, who magically brings his imaginary friend (his only friend) to life when he can no longer bear the abuse from his father, peers, and elders. Max not only helps him out, but slaughters anyone who tries to hurt his creator. The boy learns later on that his friend is developing a mind of his own and may end up turning on him before the worst is over.
It’s a dark, disturbing book, and I know one person who could not read past the first chapter without having to stopbecause of the brutality. So, if you’re a fan of demented stuff, this should be right up your alley.
I intend to keep on writing for as long as I live. Not all of my stuff is dark, and not all of my stuff is horror. I also love drama and coming-of-age stories (of which I’ve written). In fact, the next three stories I have lined up to write are in these genres.
I thank you for reading this, and hope you’ll check out my work sometime. Be safe, have a nice summer, and happy reading!

The apostles said to Jesus, “Make our faith greater.” Jesus answered, “If you had faith as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Pull yourself up by the roots and plant yourself in the sea!’ and it would obey you.”
Tulpa: a materialized thought that has taken physical form.
Eight-year-old Nathan Stevenson is beat by his father, teased by his peers, and has zero friends—except Max, his imaginary friend. Max is a heroic creature he created years ago when the physical abuse became too much to bear. Strangely, every time Nathan imagines him, he becomes more lifelike, more substantial… but nobody could guess what soon happens when Nathan refuses to be a victim anymore.
The barriers of reality break down, and Max becomes real. Only Nathan can see him, but anyone can feel his violent wrath. The monster slays anyone who gets in his creator’s path, and eats the hearts of his casualties in order to obtain strength. There’s only one question: can Nathan learn to control his Tulpa? Or will it break free from his mental restraints to do whatever it desires? Either way, there will be a lot of dead bodies to clean up!
Author’s Note:
This paranormal/splatterpunk horror novel, Imaginary Friend, has been updated with a new cover and has been reedited for a more soothing read. It also contains elements of science fiction and fantasy, but the information about “Tulpas” are based on fact. For adults only!
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Horror
Rating – R
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Connect with Troy McCombs on Facebook & Twitter

Thursday, May 22, 2014

"One my strong points is story development" says C.D. Verhoff @CDVerhoff #Fantasy

Do you intend to make writing a career? 
If the income was reliable it would be the career of my dreams. Reality tells me to wake up and smell the coffee.
Have you developed a specific writing style?
I’m not sure if others would agree, but I think my prose are simple, unadorned, and straightforward.
What is your greatest strength as a writer? 
One of my strong points is plot development. For my series, I see far into the future, even into books yet to be written. What might seem to be an unimportant tangent often turns out to be significant later on. For instance, in Promised Land, the trashy novel Josie is reading in chapter two seems to be a trivial detail, but it becomes significant later on.
What’s your greatest weakness as a writer? 
One of my weaknesses is grammar. I go by intuition and it usually serves me well, but don’t grill me on the details. If you ask me what a dangling participle is I’ll start to giggle. Is it just me or does it sound a little kinky?
Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? 
Yes, I’ve had writers block many times. My remedies vary. Last time I played Candy Crush, Pet Rescue and Free Cell  until it went away. The time before that I gave up on the scene and jumped forward to a later one. It took me a few weeks to get back to it, but I did. One of my toughest cases of writer’s block continues to plague me. I’ve been sitting on the unfinished manuscript for over a year now. The problem started on a fictional front porch, where my protagonist was arguing with her estranged husband. Anger and betrayal were fogging the night when the dialogue froze in midair. I have revisited that porch dozens of times, but it’s as if the world has stopped turning. The scene is locked. Nothing will budge. I haven’t found a way to defrost it. My solution . . . abandon it and move on to a totally different novel.
Can you share a little of your current work with us? 
Of course! I’d love to share a piece of  Promised Land: A Galatia Novel with you. This is an expert from chapter three. Seventeen-year-old Josie Albright doesn’t know it yet, but her life is about to change undergo a radical change:
As she puzzled over the situation, the entire world seemed to groan and belch. A framed photo of Josie with her sisters and mother fell off the wall. She shot out of bed and rushed to Feenie’s room. Her sister’s bed was still made.
“Mom!” she called out as she ran to Mother’s bedroom—empty—which was nothing unusual as Mother frequently got called out for offline emergencies. The lights blinked in and out several times, but then held steady.
“Yep, probably another computer malfunction,” she said out loud, trying to convince herself that the shaking and flickering were nothing to worry about.
She went to the fridge. The broken door hung ajar. Cool air escaped from the gaps. She opened the door with care, trying not to damage it further as she grabbed a bowl of chocolate pudding. The container felt lukewarm.
“Oh, well.”
As she sat at the kitchen counter, spooning pudding into her mouth, the bowl on the counter started to vibrate. Dishes rattled in the cupboard. Knickknacks fell off the shelf. Another tremor?
There had been dozens of them over the last two years. Sometimes the damage was a big deal, but most of the time everything was back to normal within a few hours. Last week, a tremor had caused the entire facility to go offline for two days. Nobody was allowed to shower. The temperature hovered around fifty degrees. No videos to watch, no computer games to play, no eBooks to read. Horrible. No way did she want to live through that again. The lights blinked on and off again, leaving her suspended in darkness with a chocolate pudding in her hand. Uh-oh.
Alarm bells began to ring throughout the facility.
The sound of people running down the public corridor made her drop the spoon on the floor. She flung open the front door. The sound of chaos instantly increased tenfold. Dim emergency lights cast everything in an eerie blood red glow. Entire families were running down the hallway, dressed in heavy clothing, carrying their emergency backpacks, fear etched across their features.
How did you come up with the title? 
The plotline is loosely inspired by the Israelites trek to Canaan, otherwise known as The Promised Land. The name comes from God’s promise to Abraham. He would make his descendents a great nation. Moses was the one who finally brought the prophecy to fruition. In my novel, Red Wakeland the Second, is the “Moses” of his day. After living in an underground shelter for forty years, he leads his people across the grasslands in search of a new homeland.
Can you tell us about your main character? 
The story is told from the viewpoints of multiple characters, the main ones being Lars Steelsun (age 19), Josie Albright (age 16), and Michael Blade (age 52), and Red Wakeland the Second (age 40). However, as characters develop and the plot unfolds, it doesn’t take long for one of the characters to steal the spotlight. Who would guess that it’s the 16-year-old girl? Josie has become a fan favorite. Here’s her introduction in chapter two:
From her mother she inherited the cornflower blue Albright eyes, but that was about it. Josie was a petite 5’4”. Her lips weren’t plump. Her body was compact—not willowy—and her chest department was nothing to brag about. She kept her black hair in a short pixie style. Competing with the other females in her family was impossible, so she eschewed make-up, nice clothes, and cheerleading as a form of protest. She had spent a lifetime trying to escape from underneath her siblings’ beautiful shadows, too hard some would say, but it didn’t diminish the love she reserved especially for them. Well, not usually, she thought with regret.
The clock on her nightstand said 22:30:15. Most of the bunkers’ residents were asleep by now. Out of habit, Josie rapped on the metal wall of her bedroom. Normally, Feenie returned the favor, but tonight there was no response. It was a silly way to say goodnight, but they had been doing it for the last three years, ever since Jo got married and they no longer had to share a room.
The front door creaked open, sending Josie scrambling out of bed in a sports bra, underwear, and socks, eager to apologize to Feenie. In the living area, she skidded to a stop in her socks. Mother stood scowling in the doorway. Her perfectly coiffed hair looked frazzled around the edges. Although she was nearly seventy years old, she didn’t look a day over forty. The Charismatic Committee’s conclusion was that Veronica Albright had been blessed with a charisma that slowed the aging process, which made her the envy of the bunker. Unfortunately, charismas weren’t hereditary. Each person’s abilities manifested in their own way, usually starting around puberty. Some charismas got stronger with age. Others faded away from lack of use.
“Where’s Feenie?” Josie asked, trying to look around her mother’s demure form and into the public corridor.
“Dr. Steelsun is keeping her overnight for observation.”
“Uh, why exactly?” Josie asked, feeling sheepish and guilty. She wouldn’t be able to sleep again until Mother confirmed that Feenie was okay.
“You snapped her collar bone and gave her a concussion.”
It took a moment for the news to sink in. Pain constricted her throat muscles. She tried to swallow it away, but it only grew worse.
“I didn’t think, er, I didn’t mean to…” She fought back the rising tears. “It was an accident!”
Mother held up her hand like a barrier against Josie’s voice. “How many times have I told you to think before you act, Josie? The way you wield the charisma like a knife-toting maniac is going to kill somebody someday.”

The last survivors of the human race are riding out nuclear winter in an underground bunker when disaster strikes. Forced to the surface centuries ahead of schedule, what they find blows their minds. Who can explain it? Two social misfits work together to unravel the mystery.
After living in a posh underground shelter his entire life, Lars Steelsun is plunged headfirst into a mind-blowing adventure on the surface of the Earth. As Lars and his displaced bunker mates are led across the grasslands by Mayor Wakeland, a man of questionable sanity who claims to talk with God, they discover a primitive world where human beings are no longer welcome. Even more mystifying is the emergence of new senses and abilities from within. Learning to use them has become a priority, but his biggest challenge comes from the vivacious Josie Albright. Her lust for glory is going to get them both into trouble. Sparks fly when her gung ho ways clash with his cautious personality. Can they overcome their differences to find love and a homeland for their people?
May not be suitable for younger readers. Contains mild profanity, sexual situations (infrequent), and violence. Main Category: epic fantasy. Subcategories: dystopian, science fiction, religion, sword and sorcery.
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Genre - Epic Fantasy
Rating – R
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Alternative #History Fiction "Riddle Of The Diamond Dove" (Arkana Mysteries #4) by N. S. Wikarski

Chapter 3—Cold Case
Leroy Hunt stood in the middle of Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago holding a cup of steaming black coffee. He grimaced at the very thought of swallowing that witches’ brew. Its sole purpose was to keep his hands warm. He stamped his booted feet in a vain attempt to get the blood circulating to his toes. The March wind off the lake was cutting right through his denim jacket. March! Back where he came from it would be spring already. He gazed up humorlessly at the Picasso statue staring down its long nose at him. It looked like a fifty foot cross-eyed horse. At the moment, Leroy wished he had a real horse that he could mount and tell to “giddyup.” Why in the name of creation did old Abe want to meet here? Leroy’s first choice would have been a bar, closely followed by a strip club but he knew that a Bible thumper like Metcalf wouldn’t cotton to those suggestions. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught some movement on the opposite side of the plaza.
A late model limo had parked just long enough to let out its passenger. Leroy waved to the geezer climbing out of the back seat and motioned him toward a bench under a tree. Of course there was no shade since the branches were bare but sitting near the trunk did cut the wind some. Hunt got to the bench first and sat down.
Abraham Metcalf, prophet and Diviner of the Blessed Nephilim, took his sweet time hobbling over. “Good afternoon, Mr. Hunt,” the old man said stiffly.
“Boss.” Leroy tipped his Stetson hat. “Set yourself down and take a load off.” The cowboy marveled at the change that had come over his employer in the three months since they’d met last. Although the old man was in his seventies, he’d always carried his age well. Now it looked as if the years had piled onto him like a pack of coon hounds on a cottontail. His eyes were sunken and the bags underneath them had sprouted little bags of their own. Both his beard and mane of white hair were shaggy. The black overcoat that covered his funeral suit hung on him like a sack.
Leroy tried not to show his reaction to this transformation. “How you doin’, Mr. Metcalf?” he asked jauntily, setting the coffee cup down on the bench between them.
Metcalf shrugged off the question. “I’ve had better years.”
“No doubt, no doubt,” Hunt agreed sententiously. “Must be hard for you with your Missus still missin’ and all.”
Metcalf winced at the reference. “Yes, that’s the reason I wished to speak to you. Have you had any luck finding her yet?”
Leroy thought back to his fruitless search for Metcalf’s fourteen year old runaway bride. The trail had gone cold at an antique shop in the city. Of course, he knew she’d made her getaway with the help of Metcalf’s son Daniel but he couldn’t afford to tell the old man that. Daniel was Leroy’s meal ticket—the one person in the world who could find those blasted gewgaws that Metcalf had such a powerful urge to collect and that Leroy had an equally powerful urge to steal afterward. The last thing Hunt wanted was for the old coot to catch wind of the fact that his own son helped his wife to give him the heave ho. Metcalf would kill the relic hunt and his son, not necessarily in that order.
Shielding Daniel wasn’t Hunt’s only concern. He had to make sure he got to Hannah before any of the Nephilim did. That way she couldn’t get chatty with anybody at the compound about who helped her get away. The mercenary’s face betrayed none of these worries. Instead he replied blandly,” I’m sorry to say, I ain’t had no luck findin’ the little gal yet.  I’m guessin’ your own crew ain’t done much better?”
Metcalf sighed deeply. “The devil has taken her. Mark my words, this was no ordinary disappearance.”
“You don’t say,” Leroy drawled, sporting an expression of innocent surprise. He knew the devil had nothing to do with it—unless the devil had taken to disguising himself as a pasty-faced runt named Daniel.
“She was only a child. The devil led her astray and spirited her beyond our reach. None of the brotherhood can find her. I had hoped that one of the Fallen, such as yourself, might have had a better chance.”
It always rubbed Leroy the wrong way whenever one of the Bible thumpers referred to outsiders as “Fallen” but he couldn’t very well let the old man see his annoyance. Instead he asked, “How much time I got left before your son and me need to hit the road to find that next doodad?”
Metcalf sighed even more deeply than before. “Daniel spends all his days at the library in this city.” He looked around the plaza with distaste. “I don’t like the amount of time he is forced to toil in the land of the Fallen.”
Leroy ignored the “F” word again. “Now you don’t need to worry about Daniel none. He’s true blue.”
Metcalf shot him a grateful look. “Thank you, Mr. Hunt, for that reassurance. I believe he is. He says he’s approaching a breakthrough—that within the month he should know where to search for the next relic.”
“That suits me just fine,” Hunt agreed, picking up the coffee cup to thaw his fingers. “Can’t stand much more of this northern air. Them folks that hid the doodads a couple thousand years back seem to favor your warm and sandy lands. I’ll take a hot desert over this iceberg any day of the week.” He glared at the Picasso as if it was somehow responsible for the misty drizzle that was freezing his face off.
“Since you came back from your last mission, surely you’ve discovered some small scrap of evidence that might lead to my Hannah,” Metcalf persisted bleakly.
Leroy wasn’t about to tell him that he’d spent every day since their return three months ago tailing Daniel. He figured that Miss Hannah might try to make contact with her rescuer again once she was somewhere safe but that idea hadn’t panned out. Hunt was going to have to cast a wider net. “No, sir, nothing so far but there’s a couple of other things I could maybe try.”
“Good, I’m glad to hear it.” Metcalf’s voice held a glimmer of hope. “She must be approaching her time to deliver my son.”
Hunt recollected that she’d be pretty far along in her pregnancy by now. Inwardly, he was baffled by the old man’s yen for a little gal that was barely old enough to ride a bicycle without training wheels. He wondered if the Nephilim allowed their kids to have bikes at all. Probably not. It might smack of too much fun. He couldn’t see what the old coot was carrying on about anyway. He had three dozen other wives stashed in the cupboards and closets of his creepy compound. So what if one went missing? He returned to the conversation. “You’re sure the baby’s gonna be a boy? Did you have her checked before she ran off?”
The Diviner seemed puzzled by the question. “Of course it’s a boy. What else could it be?”
Deciding not to pursue the question any further, Leroy changed the subject. “I gotta wonder why you picked this spot to meet, sir. I don’t mind drivin’ way out to your place in the sticks.”
“Your presence at the compound has attracted an inordinate amount of attention lately. Every time one of my flock sees you in my office, the gossip and speculation begin all over again.”
“Gotcha, boss. Best I do my work for you out of sight.”
The old man stared at him hard. “Bring her back to me, Mr. Hunt. You’re my last hope.”
Leroy smiled reassuringly. “I mean to do exactly that, sir. Don’t you worry none.” He failed to mention the shape she’d be in when he did bring her back. Dead.
THE ARKANA SERIES: Where Alternative History Meets Archaeology Adventure
Volume Four - Riddle Of The Diamond Dove
"From Kindle Nation fave N. S. Wikarski comes the long-awaited fourth book in her fascinating seven-part Arkana archaeology thriller series -- with more of the wonderful characters, sly humor, intrigue and mayhem that come together to create the absorbing world of her intricate, fast-paced mysteries." (Kindle Nation Daily)
Global Treasure Hunt
Where do you hide an ancient relic that has the power to change the course of history? As Cassie Forsythe and her Arkana team discover, you scatter clues to its whereabouts across the entire planet. Five artifacts buried among the rubble of lost civilizations point to the hiding place of a mythical object known as the Sage Stone. Thus far psychic Cassie, bodyguard Erik, and librarian Griffin have succeeded in recovering two of those artifacts.
Opposing Forces
Cassie and Company find their lives threatened at every turn by agents of a religious cult known as the Blessed Nephilim. The cult's leader, Abraham Metcalf, wants to exploit the power of the Sage Stone to unleash a catastrophic plague on the world. The quest for the next piece of the puzzle has led both sides to Africa. They must comb an entire continent--their only lead a riddle carved onto a mysterious dove sculpture. Even as the Arkana team struggles to decipher the clue, new dangers hover over their colleagues at home.
Other Dangers
Metcalf's child-bride Hannah has taken refuge at the home of the Arkana's leader Faye while mercenary Leroy Hunt creeps ever nearer to her hiding place. His search for the girl brings him dangerously close to the secret location of the Arkana's troves--a collection of pre-patriarchal artifacts which confirm an alternative history of the origins of civilization itself. While Hunt closes in on Hannah, Metcalf's son Daniel dogs the footsteps of the Arkana field team in order to claim the next artifact before they do. Daniel recruits a clever ally along the way who might be more than a match for the opposing side.
Collision Course
When the forces of the Arkana and the Nephilim converge on a ruined city in a forgotten corner of the dark continent, the shocking outcome is beyond even Cassie's powers to foresee. The quest for the Sage Stone will veer in an unexpected direction once both sides solve the Riddle Of The Diamond Dove.
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Genre - Alternative History Fiction
Rating – PG
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