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Lifting Up Authors instead of Slamming Them – Kate M. Collins

This is a piece written by my friend, Kate M. Collins. Great advice for all authors and aspiring authors.

 

Hey! It’s Monday! I think I’m recovered from Friday…only time will tell.

By the way, Billy Joel puts on a great live show.

There’s something a lot of new authors don’t quite understand. Other authors are not your competition. There’s a ton of readers out there. And they’re not going to stick to your titles only. They’re going to read other authors, different genres.

They’re not cheating on you when they do this. Nor is the author whose book they bought just now robbing you of a sale. You are not in competition with your fellow authors.

It’s a simple case of math. It’s going to take you longer to write a new book, have it pass through the arms of your beta readers, get it polished, submit it, find a publisher, have it go through their editor and proofreader, and finally go up for sale than it will for a reader to read it. If they waited for you to finish all of that, they’re going to get restless. Bored.

And then they’re going to find another book to read in between yours.

So, stop trying to talk over another author and push your book. Don’t be that used car salesman that’s always in the face of their reader. Cheer on your fellow authors. Encourage them when they’re stuck. Help them promote. Go to their virtual release parties. Stop in at a book signing, take a picture together, and share it on twitter.

Don’t go after them like they’re the enemy. Especially in public or on social media. Even if you personally don’t care for them. In this business, nice guys finish first. You don’t want to kill your own reputation because you get frustrated and mouth off online about how author x came to your event and talked about his books instead of letting you pitch yours.

BB

 

Beltane

Beltane

Beltane is the fire festival celebrated for centuries on May 1st. There are different opinions as to the origin of the name. One is that Beltane means “fire of Bel”. Belenus is one of the Celtic Sun Gods and his name means “The Shining One”. In Ireland, he is known as Bile or Beli, the “Father of Gods and Men”. He is a fire deity and associated with cattle. Around May 1st, cattle are moved from being indoors during the winter to the high pastures for the summer. Another, more current meaning is “bright fire”. Whatever the origin of the name, the festivities are dedicated to rites for fertility; bonfires, Maypoles, dancing, merry making and sexual energy.

The Celts gave offerings to the Gods/Goddesses to ask for fertility for their crops, animals and themselves; an abundant harvest and new life. The celebrations usually began the night before with the lighting of the bale fires. On May Eve, the God of the Forest or Hunt and the Goddess of Fertility and Earth joined together in sacred sex. A young maiden and man were chosen from the village and anointed as personifications of the God and Goddess to perform the sacred act. In imitation of this Great Rite, many couples wandered away into the forest or other secluded spots for a time of sexual passion and unbridled sex.

In parts of Wales and England, women trying to conceive, go out on May Eve… the last night of April…and find a “birthing stone”, which is a large rock formation with a hole in the center. According to legend, if she walks through the hole she will conceive a child that night. If there is no large rock like that nearby, a small stone with a hole in the center would do. A branch of oak or other wood was driven through the hole and placed under the bed for fertility. Babies conceived at Beltane were considered a gift from the gods. They were sometimes referred to as “merry-begots”, because the mothers were impregnated during Beltane’s merrymaking.

Young couples who wished to be “exclusive”, but not “married” could join together in handfasting. They would “tie the knot” using a ribbon woven around their joint hands as they pledged themselves to each other for a year and a day. If the romance didn’t survive, they were free to love someone else once the 366 days had passed.

The bale fire is more than a big pile of logs and some flame. It was a place where the entire community gathered. A place of music, magic and dancing and lovemaking. It was also used as a blessing for the cattle. In Scotland, two fires were lit. Cattle were driven between the fires to bring good fortune to the herders and farmers. After the animals had been kept in close confinement over winter, it was also a chance to drive out the lice and parasites that had flourished.

The fire was often used as a signal beacon. According to legend, each year at Beltane, the tribal leaders would send a representative to the hill of Uisneach, where a great bonfire was lit. These representatives would each light a torch, and carry it back to their home villages. Once the fire reached the village, everyone would light a torch to take into their houses and use to light their hearths. This way, the fire of Ireland was spread from one central source throughout the entire country.

The Maypole is a giant symbol of the sexuality of the celebration. The pole is usually 12 to 15 feet in height. Before being erected, long strands of ribbon in many of the bright colours of spring and summer were attached to the top of the pole. It was then raised in the centre of the village green, or any field where a large crowd could gather. Men and women would take hold of one of the ribbons, men facing one way and women the other. Holding the ribbons, they danced around the pole enveloping it in a sheath of colour.

In Wicca, in a rite that was started on the Isle of Man, the battle for supremacy between the supporters of the May Queen and the Winter King commences. If the May Queen is captured, she has to be ransomed before her supporters can get her back. On Calton Hill, when the May Queen and the Winter King arrive at the Acropolis surrounded by handmaidens (guardians of the May Queen, who can be portrayed by either sex), and drummers they are led around and down the hill. As they travel, they are interrupted by the red men – spirits of chaos and disorder – who try to distract the May Queen. Halfway down the hill, the Winter King is killed and reborn as the Green Man, and the May Queen lights the bonfire, symbolizing the light and heat of summer. Around the stage, roaming performers with torches entertain the public, and fire sculptures light up the sky.

Another rite still followed today is to go out at sunrise on Beltane and gather morning dew using a bowl or jar. Wash your face in the dew, and you’re guaranteed a perfect complexion. The dew can also be used in ritual as consecrated water, particularly those related to the moon or the goddess Diana or her counterpart, Artemis.

Some of the deities that are included in Spring celebration are:

The Green Man (Celtic): He is also known as The God of the Forest or Hunt and is considered the god of vegetation and plant life. He symbolizes the life that is found in the natural plant world, and in the earth itself. He is typically portrayed as a human face surrounded by dense foliage. In some parts of England, a Green Man is carried through town in a wicker cage as the townsfolk welcome the beginning of summer.

Artemis (Greek): The moon goddess Artemis was associated with the hunt, and was seen as a goddess of forests and hillsides. This pastoral connection made her a part of spring celebrations in later periods.

Bes (Egyptian): Worshipped in later dynasties, Bes was a household protection god, and watched over mothers and young children. He and his wife, Beset, were paired up in rituals to cure problems with infertility.

Bacchus (Roman): Considered the equivalent of Greek god Dionysus, Bacchus was the party god — grapes, wine, and general debauchery were his domain. In March each year, Roman women could attend secret ceremonies called the bacchanalia, and he is associated with sexual free-for-alls and fertility.

Flora (Roman): This goddess of spring and flowers had her own festival, Floralia which was celebrated every year between April 28 to May 3. Romans dressed in bright robes and floral wreaths, and attended theater performances and outdoor shows. Offerings of milk and honey were made to the goddess.

Hera (Greek): This goddess of marriage was the equivalent of the Roman Juno, and took it upon herself to bestow good tidings to new brides. A maiden about to marry could make offerings to Hera, in the hopes that she would bless the marriage with fertility. In her earliest forms, she appears to have been a nature goddess, who presides over wildlife and nurses the young animals which she holds in her arms.

Kokopelli (Hopi): This flute-playing, dancing spring god carries unborn children upon his own back, and then passes them out to fertile women. In the Hopi culture, he is part of rites that relate to marriage and childbearing, as well as the reproductive abilities of animals. Often portrayed with rams and stags, symbolic of his fertility, Kokopelli occasionally is seen with his consort, Kokopelmana.

Pan (Greek): This agricultural god watched over shepherds and their flocks. He was a rustic sort of god, spending lots of time roaming the woods and pastures, hunting and playing music on his flute. Pan is typically portrayed as having the hindquarters and horns of a goat, similar to a faun. Because of his connection to fields and the forest, he is often honored as a spring fertility god.

Wherever you are in the northern hemisphere, I hope you enjoy a beautiful spring and summer. With the seeds you are sowing in your life right now, I wish you much joy and abundance when it is time to reap.

The Possibility of Death by Gwen Tuinman

In this season where we contemplate death and rebirth, my friend takes us into the world of “mortality’s fragile nature”. A beautiful piece, well written.

POSSIBILITY OF DEATH

by Gwen Tuinman

The doctor reviewed my file while I waited on a plastic chair. Morning sun brightened the examination room. Illustrations of pretty pink uteruses and fallopian tubes hung from the opposing wall in a neat row. Click, click, click. The doctor toyed with his pen and adjusted his John Lennon glasses. I wondered idly if he shopped for his own shirts, or if his wife deserved the kudos.

He eventually laid the folder aside and wheeled his chair close to me so that our knees nearly touched. Only in retrospect would I recognize the foreshadowing of that moment. Not even his discerning expression raised the alarm. Bad things happen to other people.

No they don’t.

“We’ve discovered something in your ultrasound. I’m very concerned.” He leaned toward me, and in dulcet tones, described my tumour and the insidious nature of ovarian cancer.

Everything slowed down – my breath, my heartbeat.

“Is it early?” I asked.

“We don’t know yet,” he replied. “I’m very concerned.”

I remember later, resting my elbows on the reception counter while the nurse completed some paperwork. “I’m a yoga practicing vegetarian who exercises regularly.” I laughed nervously. “How didthis happen?”

“It’s pure chance,” she said. “You’ve done nothing wrong.”

If only blame could have been laid on something I’d done, like ignoring the jumble of vitamin bottles in my cupboard or skipping the gym on the wrong day. I would have preferred shouldering responsibility to knowing death could target me by random chance.

 

Five months later — after major surgery, positive mantras, walks in the woods and follow up testing — I received a clean bill of health. But during those days of not knowing what the future held, I thought a lot about dying.

Along the way, I documented thoughts on a digital recorder. “The scariest thing,” I said, “is seeing people’s emotions mirrored back at me when I tell them I’m sick.” On another day, I said, “I feel optimistic. But if this thing is kicking me in the pants, I’ll keep it to myself. I’ll be brave and push forward and do my thing.” I remember hoping my husband and children would take their cue from me. I’d remain calm and hopeful to set the tone for everyone else. The cadence and tension in the recordings belied my fear. I was preparing for battle and establishing the mindset I thought, perhaps naively, would carry me through.

Sometimes, the possibility of death comes to us quietly like the rustle of leaves. Other times, it thrusts itself upon us with a crack of thunder. Three years after its first appearance, the possibility of death sideswiped me again. Pain sliced through me for five days before I was admitted to the hospital. Had I gone without medical treatment for one more day, I might have died. “Prepare yourself,” the surgeon warned. “It’s probably cancer.”

Before being rushed into emergency surgery, I laid a hand on my husband’s arm, “Don’t worry honey, it’s going to be alright. And even if it’s not alright, it’s going to be alright.” That’s my last memory before waking up post surgery to my husband’s assurances that all was fine. By fluke, wayward scar tissue from the first surgery had knotted itself around my insides much like the jute macramé craze of the seventies. A problem easily unravelled.

I had a brief window of time in which to contemplate squaring off against mortality again. The icy bubble of morphine gliding through veins relaxed me, but I believe my calm response to the situation can be attributed to the practice run from three years earlier. I’d pulled out the playbook and executed the positivity strategy already in print.

Still, this time was different. There’d been a physical suffering not encountered in the first event and, albeit briefly, I’d glimpsed the powers of pain management. How foolish that I’d focused entirely on emotional strength and neglected to consider the prospect of a painful ending.

 

The earliest conversation I remember about death took place at the First Baptist Church in my hometown. I was six years old when the reverend’s wife told my Sunday school class about heaven after death. “In our father’s house there are many rooms,” she said. Falling asleep in my own bed and waking-up in more opulent surroundings didn’t sound so frightening at that age.

My first loss came in the form of my great grandmother’s death. I remember at eleven years old, standing forlorn in the dark paneled hallway of the funeral parlour, watching her daughter — my paternal grandmother — in pleasant conversation with another mourner. She noticed me there and we both began to weep.

“Oh Gwen, don’t cry,” she said, wrapping her arms around me. “Old Grandma had a long life and she didn’t suffer.”

I could understand the merits of not suffering.

My maternal grandmother once told me a story about her sister, Clara, who died at home from influenza. Just before her passing, she extended a fevered arm to angels hovering above her bed. The image captivates my imagination.

Research of my ancestry has led me to discover stories told by death certificates. One of my great grandmother endured one surgery and three years of illness before succumbing to cancer of the lung and breast. She too died at home. So many questions come to mind about her pain and fear. What nature of medical care did she receive? I think about the loved ones who tended to her needs. Were they equipped to usher her through the last days? Or were they in a state of constant worry and uncertainty, overwhelmed by all that death entails?

One of my friends is a community nurse with several years of experience at a major Toronto hospital. Over her career, she’s supported many people through their final days. “It’s about helping a person along that journey,” she told me, “and making them comfortable so they can get the best from their remaining time.” We’ve talked about hospital beds in living rooms; IV pumps and pain medication; caregiver relief; and the virtues of home versus hospital. I’ve learned there is a host of expertise and programs to usher people through.

I recently told my husband I thought, should the need arise one day, that I would choose palliative care in a hospital. “It would be such a trying the experience for you and the children. Maybe it would be more fair if you could visit then go home to escape it all.”

“You’re entitled to think of yourself in your last days,” he replied without missing a beat. “I would want to make them as comfortable for you as possible. You would do he same for me.”

He was absolutely right. I would, without hesitation.

 

I don’t obsess about the possibility of death. But an awareness of mortality’s fragile nature nests just below the surface of my consciousness. It instills gratitude that I’m participating in the world. These experiences remind me how to live. I tell people I love them whenever the mood strikes. I share spontaneous hugs and gushy emails. I heed intuition and stop to savour a beautiful moment when it presents itself. I laugh at myself more often than I should admit to. When I’m too afraid to step outside the box, I do it anyway. I’m doing it right now.

Death and illness are difficult subjects. I rarely discuss my own experience or reflections at length. When I brave the topic, most people’s eyes tend to glaze over and they check their watches. They mentally back away from me, as if this random medical misfortune is a living thing looking for a new host. It might latch onto their sleeve, then they’ll be hauling it around.

Discussions about dying won’t cause death. Avoiding discussions about dying won’t prevent death. The timing is almost always out of our hands. My considerations on the matter are philosophical and hypothetical. For me, knowledge is empowering and preparedness is medicinal. But no two journeys are alike and no approach is wrong. After all, we are each the authors of our own story.

About the author:

Gwen Tuinman HeadshotGwen Tuinman’s  short fiction is included in The Renaissance Anthology and is currently featured in a text and photography exhibit at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery. She is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Writers’ Community of Durham Region and writes for The Word Weaver. She is currently at work on a novel. Research and reflections relative to her works in progress can be found at http://www.gwentuinman.com./

 

Remembering Your Life’s Plan

I received this story from Robert Schwartz, author of Your Soul’s Plan, via his newsletter. I found it very inspiring and wanted to share it with you here.

I’d like to share with you a beautiful and inspiring email I received recently from An, who came into a Knowing of one aspect of her pre-birth plan. An writes:

“Hi Robert, I have read both your books, and and your writings have truly resonated deep within my soul. I was drawn and guided to your work after a near death experience in May of 2014. It was such a strange experience, and I am still healing from it now.

“To give you a brief account, I was riding my bike and making a right turn at a very busy intersection in Montreal when I was run over by the four back wheels of an eighteen-wheeler carrying a 1-ton crane. Right when it was all happening I felt strangely calm. I knew it was unavoidable and relaxed into it (rather than tensing up, which would have killed me) and also invoked an emergency Reiki symbol that called in the energies of angels and ascendant masters to help me. I am an energy healer and very spiritual so I definitely had the tools to deal with this!

“After getting run over I never lost consciousness but instead stayed with the pain, meditating into it while everyone around me panicked, to the point that during the ride in the ambulance, I had to tell the paramedic watching over me to calm down. He was yelling my name to keep me “awake” because I had my eyes shut in meditation. I opened my eyes and told him to “please be quiet” as I was meditating and I squeezed his hand to let him know I was okay. I only lost consciousness when I reached the ER when they injected me with ketamine.

“When I finally woke up a day and a half later, after an 11-hour operation where I had 40 Reiki masters from around the world giving me distance Reiki, the first thing I felt (and it was such a deep knowing) was that I had planned it all. So many strange details about my accident make me certain that this was planned and that this accident was much bigger than me on so many levels.

“My recovery was miraculous to say the least… basically after 4 operations, I escaped with no spinal, organ or brain damage! They also told me they weren’t sure when I would walk again, but I began walking after 3 weeks. They told me I would be in the hospital for 6 months, but I was discharged to a convalescence after 5 weeks. I continued rehab at a special hospital but was able to go home only three months after the accident. I had a physiotherapist look at my x-rays and marvel at how strange it was that despite the weight of the truck that should have shattered my bones, only the outer bones were broken, as if something had protected the inner parts from being damaged. I had another physiotherapist who had been working for 40 years tell me that I was the most miraculous case he had ever worked on.

“The accident itself was extremely public, it occurred at one of the busiest intersections in downtown Montreal. And that day was also very different in that there was an event/protest happening, so the streets were full of people, including media, police and first response (so that the reaction after my accident was instantaneous). (A bizarre side note: one of my friends was three cars ahead of the accident in his own car and saw it happening and only realized it was me when he saw it on the news, I then ended up in the same rehab facility as his grandma, so he was able to visit us both at the same time lol). I also locked eyes with the police officer that came to my aid right before and as it was happening. I think the hardest part for me was seeing the terror and trauma in everyone as it was happening. I weirdly felt so much sadness in my heart feeling all that pain.

“Eventually though, I realized that everyone who was supposed to be there and the trauma we all experience was a part of a healing on a bigger scale.

“After the accident there was a lot of media coverage about bicycle safety and there was another protest planned on my behalf in solidarity for me at the site of the accident. A group of cyclists even staged a “die-in.” I was very touched, to say the least.

“I feel deeply that this accident was beyond me and happened not just for me to learn and grow as a soul, but was also meant as a huge activation and paradigm shift for everyone involved and the collective as a whole.”

_________

Thank you, An, for sharing your poignant story with me and the readers of this newsletter.

I’m often asked, “How can I know if I planned a particular experience before I was born?” As A Course in Miracles tells us, “perception requires the right instrument.” Trying to perceive spiritual truths with the mind is like trying to perceive weight with a thermometer or temperature with a bathroom scale: it’s the wrong instrument. What is the right instrument? The heart. Simply, and as An shows us so beautifully, the heart.

 

To view Robert’s Blog page, click here: Robert Schwartz

Reunion – A Story by Susan Lynn Solomon

A beautiful story by my friend Susan Lynn Solomon:

 

Susan Lynn Solomon:

Formerly a Manhattan entertainment attorney, and then a contributing editor to the quarterly art magazine SunStorm Fine Art, Susan Lynn Solomon now lives in Niagara Falls, New York, where she is in charge of legal and financial affairs for a management consulting firm. She is a  member of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Writers Critique Group, and since 2009 a number of her short stories have appeared in literary journals, including, Abigail Bender, Witches Gumbo, Ginger Man, The Memory Tree, Elvira, Second Hand, and Kaddish. “Sabbath” was nominated for 2013 Best of the Net by Prick of the Spindle, . Her latest short stories are “Going Home” in The Flash Fiction Press, “Captive Soul” in Solstice Publishing’s Halloween anthology, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, Volume 1, “Yesterday’s Wings” in Imitation Fruit, and “Niagara Falling” in the new Solstice Publishing anthology, Adventures in Love. Solomon’s novel, The Magic of Murder, is available at Amazon. Her Facebook page is here.

 

 

 

jenner

 

Reunion

I flew to Florida because Laura, my cousin, my best and in recent years my only friend, insisted I had to. The family was gathering for her mother’s funeral. I didn’t want to go, trembled when I thought of what waited at the cemetery. Ghosts of my past were better left interred. But Laura dug her heels into my conscience, wouldn’t let up until she got her way. Since we were children, Laura always got her way.

When the Airbus landed in Ft. Lauderdale, I saw her husband, Lawrence, just beyond the airport security zone.

“Danielle, here!” he shouted over the noise. “Over here!”

He rose to his toes, waved his hands. Thin and wiry, he had the olive complexion of his Spanish ancestors. His smile that showed perfect teeth said he was glad I’d come.

I pushed through the crowd, some hugging new arrivals, others rushing in the other direction to get on the snake of a line leading to another line, which in turn would take them through x-ray arches. From the corner of my eye, I noticed a security guard turn his head, felt his eyes follow me. I always felt eyes follow me these days.

When I reached Lawrence, I extended my arms for an embrace. The security guard’s stare singed my back. I turned. Drawn by the guard’s eyes, others now stared at me. At least, I felt as though they did. I glared. One-by-one the faces looked away.

“Doesn’t matter,” Lawrence said. “Those people don’t know you.”

I drew in a long breath. At last, I asked, “How’s Laura doing?”

“’Bout as you’d expect.” His arm around my waist, he steered me toward the escalator, and down to the baggage claim.

My cousin had a love-hate relationship with her mother. I wondered which side would thrive now that Aunt Edna died.

As if Lawrence read my mind, he said, “Laura’s keeping busy. So damn much to arrange. She’ll get around to dealing with it when this is over.”

He took the overnight bag from my shoulder. I dug for the cigarette case in my purse. After the long flight, after the stares, fearful of tomorrow, I needed a smoke.

With a sideways glance, Lawrence said, “Still smoking, I see.”

I stopped, shook a Marlboro from the case so I’d be ready to light up the minute we were outside. “And you still button your shirt to the collar, even when its ninety-five degrees.”

He touched the top button of his tropical shirt and laughed. “Some things never change.”

I did a slow pirouette, my long flowered skirt twisting around my ankles. “I did.” I laughed too, but mine was forced.

On the ride to their apartment, Lawrence questioned me about the life, fate, or chemical mix-up in my mother’s womb, had ordained I’d lead. A life estranged from my first forty years and all who dwelt there.

“I’m good,” I said, then modified my lie with, “We’ll, good as I could hope for.”

“We hate that you’re alone up there―”

“In the frozen north?”

Having spent most of my life on Long Island, I now lived but a few miles from the Canadian border.

“Should be down here with us.” Lawrence and Laura told me the same thing each time we spoke on the phone.

I answered the way I always did: “Gotta be someplace no one knows who I was.”

Thinking of what I’d face tomorrow, I turned to the window of his minivan. Get through the days one at a time, I thought. This was an instruction my shrink gave me after an operation adjusted my body. My brain?—that had been female as long ago as my first memory.

His eyes shifted from the road to me. “It’s a shame you’re not in touch with the family.” It sounded as though he thought it were my choice.

I picked at my skirt. “You know what I promised my mother. I talk to you and Laura. That has to be enough.”

“Your mother’s gone what—six, seven years?”

Again I peered out the passenger-side window.

Cars slowed on Interstate 95. An SUV maneuvered across three lanes and cut too close to a long-haul truck. Horns blared. A middle finger shot out of the SUV’s window as it accelerated to the exit ramp.

“Idiot,” Lawrence muttered.

I hardly heard him. My thoughts had drifted back to my mother. To the day I made the promise.

* * *

My brother’s house was a large colonial in Roslyn, not far from the harbor and not far from the upscale stores along the Miracle Mile. Tricia, his wife, was home when I arrived. He was out—at a friend’s house, shopping, at a ball game—somewhere, anywhere he wouldn’t have to look at what I’d become. At this thing I’d become. A thing is what he called me the few times we talked—always on the phone—since my operation.

Tricia could barely look at me. “Mom’s in her room,” she said, pointing to the hall that ran alongside the kitchen. “I’ve got work to do.” She turned on her heels and quickly climbed the open stairway. I heard a door close.

Mom smiled when I entered the bedroom my brother had made of his den when she was diagnosed with stage-three cancer. I sensed a tinge of guilt in her smile. Or maybe the guilt was in me. As she did at the beginning of each visit, Mom wondered aloud why I had done this to myself. Hadn’t I known it would shatter my family? For perhaps the fiftieth time, I told her my choice hadn’t been whether to live as a woman, but whether to live at all. After a long while on the fence, I chose life. Most of the family—my daughter and ex-wife included—would have been happier had I made the other choice. Then, I told Mom something I hadn’t before: gender dyscrasia is genetic. Immediately, her eyes moistened. She turned from me. Speaking to the bookshelves lining one wall, she said, “My Uncle Francis.”

“Uncle Francis?” Mom had never mentioned him.

In the nineteen forties, she told me, her family didn’t understand why her uncle wasn’t married, and why he constantly stared at women’s clothing, but never at the women. People said he was strange, ignored him. He used to disappear for weeks at a time, no one knew where. When he returned, his collar would be stained with makeup. Then one day he didn’t return.

Hearing the genes which formed me came from past generations of my mother’s family made me feel a bit better about myself. Clearly, it didn’t make Mom feel better.

The converted den in which she now spent most of her time was large enough for a hospital bed, a dresser, and little else. The drawn shade left the room dim. Bright sunlight hurt her eyes, she said. We played gin rummy, ate the pastrami sandwiches I brought. And talked. Mom loved me—even if I was no longer the son she’d given birth to. I needed to believe she loved me. For a long time, it was all I could cling to.

While we played cards and nibbled at our sandwiches, my mother seemed to inspect me carefully.

“What,” I asked after a few minutes. I glanced down. Though I was dressed in jeans and a ribbed turtleneck sweater, I said, “Is my slip showing?”

Her answer smacked into me as if it were a battering ram. “Tell me,” she said, “do you have the right clothes? I remember some of the things you tried to put on when you were a child—”

My God, she’s known all along. The shock almost knocked me from my chair. I’d been so careful when, as a teenager, alone in the house I’d tried on her bra, panties, stockings. Had I returned her clothes to the wrong drawers, hung her skirts out of order in her closet? It was like Mom to notice such small discrepancies.

“—you’re a grownup,” she was saying when my mind cleared enough to hear. “You have to dress properly, skirt down to your knees, if you want people to take you seriously.”

I nearly choked on a tear. Had Mom accepted I was her daughter?

I didn’t get to relish the moment. My mother looked up from the cards in her hand. “Promise me you won’t tell anyone what you’ve done to yourself. Not ever.” Her voice was a pleading whisper. Her friends, our family—aunts, uncles, cousins—she would be mortified if they knew. As was her Uncle Francis, I would be a secret: an abnormal child hidden in the attic.

“Not even Laura?” I asked. I hadn’t spoken with my cousin in the six months since my operation. Now the thought I never would again tore at my heart.

“No one,” Mom’s eyes glistened with newly formed tears.

Having elicited my oath to a dying parent, she wiped her eyes, and again dealt the cards.

For the past seven years, Laura and Lawrence had been my only family, though I hadn’t seen them in all that time. That I had them was Laura’s doing. She’d phoned me the day after my mother’s funeral.

“I looked for you, Danny. Everywhere,” she’d said. “Why the hell weren’t you there?”

I asked how she’d gotten my number. She told me our Aunt Adele had cornered Tricia, wheedled it out of her.

“No one would even mention your name,”Laura said. “What’s going on?” she shouted. “Bullshit” stopped me as I began to invent a story.

From the time we were children, my cousin could tell when I lied. Her silence demanded the truth. My voice broke. A sharp pain shot from my chest to my knees. As if each word were wrenched from the dark cavern my heart had become, I said, “I suppose…uh…I don’t know how to…” A sob snuck up on me.

“Tell me!” Laura said.

“Uh…well…” I didn’t know how to tell the cousin who had been my best friend when we were kids. If the brother I’d looked after and defended from bullies had turned his back on me, if my daughter, whom I loved more than myself, could no longer bear to hear my voice, how would Laura react?

I took a deep breath, dreading the silence of a dead phone line. “My name’s now Danielle―” I said so softly I hardly heard my voice.

Laura heard me. She always did. The abnormal child had crept down from the attic. My stomach in a knot, I waited for the worst.

After what felt like ten minutes, she said, “Is that all? You’re an idiot. Did you think it would make a difference to me? You’re you. Male, female, who the hell cares? My God, from the way your brother sneered when I asked about you, I thought you’d killed someone.”

“Guess I did,” I said. “I killed his big brother.”

Flooded by a tsunami of tears, during the remainder of the phone call I must have sounded as though I were talking underwater.

* * *

Laura’s apartment was on the ground floor of an extensive condominium complex. Not lavish, it was just the right size for her, Lawrence, and their son, Jonathan. It had two bedrooms off a rectangular space that held a dining room set, a few chairs, a computer desk, a television, and the couch on which I would sleep. Beyond, a glass door opened onto an enclosed patio—what residents called a Florida porch.

My cousin swiveled from her computer when the front door opened. “You made it,” she said. Her eyes were red. She twisted her knuckles on them.

“Did you doubt it?” I leaned down to kiss her cheek. The hug I received in return nearly fractured my ribs.

Laura took my hands. She was dressed in brown leggings and an oversized tee shirt that fell so far below her hips she could have worn it as a dress. Save the Dolphins was written across her chest. Her shoulder-length auburn hair bounced when she nodded. “Yeah, I doubted it.” She stood, held me away. “You look― Turn around, let me see you.”

Feeling as awkward as when eyes followed me in the airport, I did. When I faced her again, her right brow was arched.

“What’s the matter?”

She shook her head. “You…you’re lovely.” She sounded surprised.

“What did you expect to see? A guy in drag?” I know I sounded defensive.

“No. Not that, but— God, you’re a woman.”

I sighed, and smiled my way into another hug.

Off to the side, Lawrence laughed and shrugged my overnight bag from his shoulder. “If you two are done making out, can I put this down?” To me, he said, “This thing weighs a ton. Did you pack a suit of armor in it?”

I took the bag from him, dropped it on the couch. Still smiling, I turned to my cousin. “Will I need armor tomorrow?”

She twisted to look down at whatever she’d typed on her computer screen.

“Laura, does anyone know I’ll be there?”

She didn’t answer.

“Laura—” My eyes narrow, I drew out her name.

“You’re a pain in the ass,” she said. “Have I ever told you that?”

“Last night. Right before you swore you’d told everyone, and they couldn’t wait to see the new me.”

She leaned down and fiddled with the computer keyboard.

“You promised!”

She straightened and turned to me, hands on her hips. “Doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. I need you there.” She sniffled.

Yeah, right. Like feeling sorry for her would make me forget she’d set me up to be humiliated.

Lawrence put his arm around my waist. “Screw ’em all,”

“So, I’ll be a big surprise?”

He smiled, clearly enjoying the thought.

“It’s your mother’s funeral,” I said to Laura. “You don’t need that kind of distraction.”

I thought about what would have happened if I’d shown up at my mother’s funeral—the inevitable whispers, hands raised to the family’s mouth to mute snide remarks as I walked by. Alone. Shunned.

I glanced at my overnight bag.

“Don’t even think it,” Lawrence said. “I’m not taking you back to the airport.”

“And don’t tell me what I need,” Laura added. “You’ll be there. Next to me. That’s what I need.” She grinned. “Besides, it’s been years since the family’s seen you. Don’t tell them who you are.”

“Want a beer?” Lawrence asked before I could make like an alligator, and snap her head off.

“Good idea. Get one for both of us,” Laura said.

I wasn’t ready to let go of my annoyance. “What about my brother? Tricia, the Good One―?”

“Stop it!” Laura smacked my arm. “I hate when you say that. It’s like calling yourself bad.”

“Can’t help it. They made me feel like I am. Are they coming?”

She glanced over her shoulder at her computer screen.

“Didn’t think so.”

“Matt will be there,” she said. “He can’t wait to see you.”

Laura’s brother, Matthew, was the oldest of my cousins. He’d studied Buddhism in India. Before that he was a carnival barker. Sure he wanted to see me. I was an oddity to be observed. Were he still a barker, he might offer me a job in the sideshow.

I heard bottle caps clatter on the kitchen counter. In a moment, Lawrence was back.

I rolled the cold beer bottle in my hands. “Can’t say I wasn’t warned it would be this way.”

“You did what you had to,” Lawrence said. “You survived.”

I rolled the bottle on my cheek and forehead. Times like this I wondered whether survival was worth the effort.

Lawrence rubbed my shoulder.

The shock of the ice cold bottle against my forehead helped a bit. “Okay, you win,” I said. “You always seem to. What can I do to help you?”

As she began to answer, the front door slammed open. “Is she here yet?” a young voice called. It was Laura’s son.

Though I spoke with him by phone over the years, the last time I’d seen Jonathan he was in a stroller. He was nine, now, thin like his father and with the same shock of black hair. Dressed in a baseball jersey and shorts, the scabs on his knees told me he had as much energy as when he was an infant.

Lawrence grabbed the boy’s arm as he ran past. “Slow down, tiger. She just got here.”

Jonathan broke free of his father’s grasp, and wrapped his arms around my waist. “Aunt, Danny, Aunt Danny, I couldn’t wait to see you.” He nearly lifted me off my feet.

Snuggling my face in his hair, I glanced over at Laura. Her smile seemed to say if her son loved me this much, why would I be concerned about anyone else?

Why indeed? How could my cousin understand what I felt? She had a husband and a son who loved her. She hadn’t mourned losing them. But it would serve no purpose to bring that up. So I helped her with dinner, then settled on the couch wondering what tomorrow would be like.

* * *

Beyond the whitewashed cinderblocks of the funeral chapel, a checkerboard of lawns with row upon row of carefully tended graves filled the land between two canals. The last time I’d been here for a funeral, my mother, my brother, Tricia, my ex and my daughter, me—we’d comforted each other at the edge of the trench in which my father would lie. Now, dressed in black from my heels and stockings to my short-sleeve blouse, I wandered along the cemetery path, overcome by the difference fifteen years made. Mom was gone, my ex-wife had remarried and, as if to erase the memory of me, my daughter had taken the name of Brenda’s new husband. As I lifted my hair to cool my neck, I wondered whether my father could have accepted the path my life took. He was a man’s man, a talented athlete who surrendered his dream of stardom to tend to his family’s needs. He had expected, accepted, no less from his sons. Both of them. My brother followed in the old man’s footsteps, and now owned a successful furniture factory. He was a community leader. I’d wanted to do the same—did the same—until I couldn’t any longer. Until a plot next to my father became my only alternative to the life I now led. In Florida’s August heat, I felt a sudden chill. It was as if my father’s ghost strode past me, refusing to acknowledge I was his child.

I sat on a bench under a palm tree near my parents’ graves. My head bowed, I whispered, “I’m sorry, Dad, Mom. I’m so—”

My plea for forgiveness was interrupted by a hand on my shoulder. My head snapped up.

“Laura asked me to find you,” Aunt Adele said.

Tall, blond hair stylishly cut, her face perfectly made up, she was the last of three sisters: my mother, Aunt Edna, Aunt Adele.

I gazed past her waiting for the rebuke I knew would come: How could you have done this to my poor sister. She never forgave you. Nor have I.

My aunt reached for my arm. Instead of harsh words, she said, “The service is about to begin, Danny.”

I stumbled to my feet. “The family—” I whispered, as if afraid to disturb the ghosts of my parents. “I…I can’t.”

She took my hand. “You can, Danny—Danielle.” She smiled. “You’ll sit with me and Uncle Sid.”

As I walked with her, I thought, This is just a funeral kindness. Later, the earth will shake from the clatter of the other shoe.

* * *

The coffin was made of pine, undecorated. A simple bed for a woman everyone believed lived simple life. While the minister intoned words of consolation, Aunt Adele squeezed my hand. She’s in pain from the loss of her last sister, I thought. I squeezed back. Weeping, I whispered a prayer I’d not been permitted to say at my mother’s interment.

When the funerary rite ended, we turned our backs on the past—at least, the others did—and gathered with family and friends in Laura’s apartment. I helped her in the kitchen, placing sliced meats on plastic trays while she spooned salads into bowls. Lawrence tended the bar set up on the computer desk. Jonathan played outside with cousins he rarely saw.

Without looking at Laura, I remarked, “What you said about your mom at the service—I guess you’ve finally forgiven her.” Forgiveness had been on my mind all day.

She shoved a serving spoon into a bowl nearly overflowing with macaroni salad. “It’s time to let go of it all. If we don’t, it’ll eat us alive.” I knew she wasn’t speaking about her mother.

“Easy to say. Not so easy to―”

Her eyebrows pinched downward. “When we were kids I looked up to you, thought you were so brave.” She pushed me away. “I’m not so sure anymore.”

The words sliced into me with the sharpness of the knife she now used to chop celery stalks.

“Hey, I didn’t want to cut the family off,” I said.

She glared at me. “You sure?”

“You know what I promised my mother.”

“Yeah, yeah. But then Aunt Evie died, and you still didn’t get in touch with anyone. Not Aunt Adele, not Matt, none of our cousins. Not me. You know what I think?”

“Could I stop you from telling me?”

“You’re scared. Maybe ashamed.”

I dropped my eyes.

She caught her breath. “You are. You’re ashamed.”

The clock above the sink ticked. Children’s laughter came through the window. Low conversations floated over the counter separating Laura’s kitchen from the living room.

“Answer me! Are you ashamed of what you’ve become?”

I tried to look away.

She turned my head back. “What’s wrong with you?”

I glanced up to see Lawrence raise a glass and fill it with far more than two fingers of Jack Daniels. He handed it the man who stood next to him.

“Better get food on the table before Larry gets everyone drunk,” I said, then, to the wall behind the sink, I added, “Drunk might not be a bad idea.”

Laura punched my shoulder.

“Ow! That hurt.”

“Good. You deserve it.”

Rubbing my arm, I carried the tray of cold cuts from the kitchen. Aunt Adele grabbed my hand and I walked past. “This is Roy and Evelyn’s daughter—Danielle,” she said to the woman she’d been talking to. She pinched my cheek. “Didn’t Danny grow up nice?”

The woman’s eyes inspected me in the same manner as had those of the airport guard. “I didn’t know Evie and Roy had a daughter.”

From the way my face burned, it must have turned bright crimson. I forced a laugh, and responded with the first thing to enter my mind: “Oh, yes. I’m from their first marriage. They kept me hidden in the attic.”

Aunt Adele punched my arm—this had apparently become a family trait in the time I’d been away. If I stay here much longer, I thought, I’m gonna go home bruised. If I didn’t fly home immediately, more than my body would be sore.

The woman reached out her hand. “Nice to finally meet you, Danielle. Yes, I see the resemblance to your mother. I knew her well, you know. We were in school together.”

Still holding the platter of food, with a forced smile I listened to reminiscences of my mother and her sisters. Then the woman took my arm, and led me to other friends. She started each introduction with, “Look who’s here. It’s Edna’s niece—Evie’s daughter.”

Each in turn said, “Didn’t know she had one,” and stared at me as if I were a grey alien with a huge balloon-like head.

After ten minutes of this, I tried to escape into Jonathan’s bedroom. Laura blocked my path.

“I didn’t get you down here so you could keep hiding.” She tapped her foot. “Get back in there. Talk to people. Like it or not, you have a family that doesn’t feel shamed by the change in you.”

I heard Aunt Adele’s voice: “Danny? Now where’d that girl go? Oh, there you are. Come over here. There’s someone I want you to meet.”

Laura shoved me in my aunt’s direction. “Let her show you off.”

I glanced back at my cousin. “I hate you.”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m a royal pain in your ass.”

Lawrence was leaning against the wall. A crooked grin in on his face, he swirled the amber liquid in his glass. I had no idea what the glass contained. Didn’t matter. I grabbed the tumbler from his hand. “I need this more than you do.”

As I lifted the glass to my lips, it was gone.

“You don’t need a drink.” Laura handed the glass back to her husband. “All you need is us.”

I moved close to her. “Why are you doing this?”

She turned her back, walked into the living room, and dropped onto the sofa near our aunt.

Again swirling his drink, Lawrence said, “My wife’s right.”

“What does she know?”

“Don’t sulk, you’re a grown woman,” he said. “And yes, she is right. Look around. It seems to me you’re the only one here that hasn’t accepted you. So, I guess the choice is yours.”

“What choice do I have?”

With a shake of his head, he pushed off from wall and went to sit next to Laura.

“What choice?” I called after him, though I knew very well what he meant.

My cousin had mourned the loss of her mother since she was ten. Or, really, the loss of her mother’s love. Nothing Laura had ever done was enough. I’d once heard my parents say Aunt Edna had fallen in love with a soldier who’d been killed in Europe during the Second World War. So great was her love for the soldier she had none left for her husband or children. That’s why Matt had run off with a carnival. And when the carnival hadn’t taken him far enough from his mother, he’d flown to a mountain retreat in India. It was no surprise neither he nor Laura keened for their mother now.

While I stood lost in those thoughts, Jonathan rushed in, his face red from playing in the Florida heat.

“Aunt Danny.” He clutched my hand. “I missed you. You gonna stay here with us? C’mon, I wanna show you the kite Dad got me.”

I touched his cheek, marveling at his unrestrained love. I wondered why Aunt Edna couldn’t cherish the unrestrained love of which her daughter was capable. How could she have shoved it through a shredder like it was wastepaper? I looked around the room at the family that welcomed me home. Was I doing what my aunt had done? Had acid tears from mourning the loss of my daughter’s love, my brother’s, friends who’d turned their backs on me, left me blind? My cousin understood how I’d withdrawn from life. She struggled to pull me back. Struck now by how much more I might lose, I wiped the perspiration from Jonathan’s forehead and said, “I’ll be with you in a little bit, sweetie. First I need to tell your mom something.”

Feeling more comfortable in my clothes than I had since I arrived, I sat on the couch’s armrest perched next to Laura.

She tilted her head to look into my eyes. “What?” she said.

I glanced round the living room. Aunt Adele turned from the couple she was speaking with, and smiled at me. On the Florida porch, among the live ferns and potted palms, Uncle Sid laughed at Matt’s description of the streets of New Delhi. He touched Matt’s arm. They both waved to me. Family is this, I realized, not memories buried in a rarely visited cemetery. Family is living, laughing, loving in the present. The tears running down my cheek were soon joined by their sisters. With these people I was home.

“What?” Laura asked again.

“Jon’s birthday.” I said. “It’s next week, isn’t it?”

She nodded.

“I want to be here for it.”

Laura’s tears matched mine.

The Lie – Interview with KC Sprayberry and Characters

The Lie

 

 

Author Interview:

Talk to us about The Lie.

To understand the lie, someone must answer the question: How well do you know your friends? That is the underlying theme of this young adult psychological thriller. Amy has always been a loyal friend to Jane. Despite her family’s dislike of Jane, Amy continues to support her friend, to take the blame for minor incidents, until a cold Friday night in November that changes the lives of an entire community.

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01BX85XSG

Author Bio

Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.

She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Some of her short stories have appeared in anthologies, others in magazines.

kc sprayberry

https://youtu.be/p8liti0tEr0

 

Website/Blog/Twitter links:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/KC-Sprayberry/331150236901202

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kcsowriter

Blog: http://outofcontrolcharacters.blogspot.com/

Website: www.kcsprayberry.com

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01BX85XSG

 

Let’s talk to some of the characters:

Amy Pearson

Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

Hi, I’m Amy. This is my story, of trying to get rid of a weird friend and also trying to get my family to believe I’m not a total fool. I’m a senior at Landry High School and totally bummed. After all my hard work, I may not be able to go to college next year—because the football team and cheerleaders will get our funding. And that made all of the band so mad that we did something totally off the way… and we… we… we kind of made something really bad happen. I can’t talk about that. It’s too hard to even think about that night and if I do talk about it, a lot of good people are going to get into trouble.

What are your feelings about this story?

Sometimes, I think this story is a great way of showing people that you can’t always trust your friends. But then I start thinking about all the bad that happened for the next year, all the incredibly scary things we learned about the people who were the real masterminds of what happened, and I just want the whole thing to disappear, for it to have never happened. Only, that would be a lie. And that’s what got us here in the first place. A lie. A really big, horrid lie.

How do you feel about being a character in this book?

This is my story. A mistake I made. I’m not happy that people will see me having panic attacks or trying to get rid of a friend who wasn’t a real friend at all, but that’s what happened. We can’t change that now. Would I rather everyone watch my music videos and tell me want a great singer I am? Sure, but that wouldn’t be the whole truth.

The only good thing about this story… well, one of two good things… is Trey. He and I, we had the chance to fall in love. I mean really in love. I’m sure of that now and it hurts to know how sad he is but I’ll always have those special moments. (smiles softly) Do you think they can get Brant Daugherty to play Trey in the movie? You know, that guy from Pretty Little Liars?

What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

My future is kind of going to stay like it is. Can’t really say anything else

Is there another The Lie in the future? Will you be part of it?

I don’t think there will be a sequel to The Lie. If there is, I doubt I’ll be part of it. Can’t say much more now.

Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actor/actress would you want to play you and why?

Oh, Sienna Miller. She looks exactly like me. And I’ve seen all her movies. She’s totally cool.

 

Bryce Pearson

Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

Hey, guys, I’m Bryce. A great gunner on the special teams for the Landry High School Wildcats. I’m also Amy’s two years younger brother. She’d want me to tell you that. But I’m more than a pesky brother. I’m the person she comes to whenever Amy gets caught up in a Jane disaster. Let me tell you, Jane is a total loser, a user, and someone that should just fall off the face of the earth.

What should you know about me? Other than the whole on the football thing? Well, I’m not a total jock. I have a 4.0 GPA, with a heavy emphasis on science and math. I want to be a volunteer firefighter with my dad at his station, when I’m old enough, and my future goal is to go to Jacksonville State University in Alabama, be a Gamecock. Oh, and get a date with Ziva from NCIS. That’s one hot chick!

What are your feelings about this story?

This story is important. People have to know about the Jane’s in this world. They’re users. They’ll take down anyone that gets caught in their web of deceit. And mostly, they will destroy anyone who stands in their way of getting what they want.

How do you feel about being a character in this book?

I have to be in this book. The author didn’t want me here except as a minor character at first, but I proved to her that I was necessary. Amy needed someone who had her back. My sis has this incredible talent—she plays five instruments and sings like an angel, but she doesn’t believe in herself. And that’s how come Jane was always using Amy.

What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

My future? I’ll finish high school, help my dad reno houses, and go to Jacksonville State University in Alabama. Beyond that, I don’t really know. A lot of things are up in the air right now, but I won’t ever forget what Jane did to us.

Is there another The Lie in the future? Will you be part of it?

There will always be another The Lie in the future. Users are everywhere, and they never take responsibility for their actions. Will I be part of it? I hope not. I don’t ever want to live through that kind of stuff again.

Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actor/actress would you want to play you and why?

Movie? About our boring lives? (laughs) Yeah, I wish our lives had been normal and boring. I wish we could have booted Jane to the curb a long time ago. But that didn’t happen. So, a movie? Who plays me? Well… Theo James, the dude from Divergent and Insurgent. Yeah, he’s a lot like me. That will work. (Do you think there’s a chance Ziva from NCIS will be in the film too?)

 

Jane Preston

Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

I am Jane Preston. Don’t believe those Pearson’s. They’ll say anything to make me look bad. I can’t believe they would dare to open their mouths, after all the trouble they caused me. It’s Amy’s fault all this happened. She was the one that planned the whole problem, right from the beginning. She’s such a wuss. Always crying. Always wanting Mommy to like her. She needs to get a life. (emotionless laugh) Like that will happen now.

What are your feelings about this story?

Well, if it was the truth, more about how much of a troublemaker Amy was, it would be good. But it’s not. The whole thing is all wrong. Amy was the one that planned stuff, but then she’d chicken out and I’d have to step in and fix her messes. That dummy couldn’t do anything without Mommy’s approval, and Mommy didn’t like me. And I could never convince Amy to stop being such a Mommy’s brat.

How do you feel about being a character in this book?

Boring! Totally boring. Nobody asked me how I felt about all these lies those pathetic losers told about me. They didn’t care that my dreams got all messed up. All everyone did was talk bad about me. How awful is that? Nobody cares about me.

What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

Oh, my future is great. As soon as I get away from these losers, I’ll have a lot of fun. JSU as a college is a total loss. I’ll be going to a much better college in a few years. Everybody thinks I’m stuck in this place, but they’re wrong. I’ll get away, as soon as everyone believes what a little loser Amy is.

Is there another The Lie in the future? Will you be part of it?

Gawd! I hope so. And whoever writes it better get it right this time. That dummy that was talking to Bryce and Amy all the time only got their “oh poor me” story. Dummy didn’t bother to talk to me, to figure out that I was only making all the losers in the world pay. I mean—who cares what happened to all those people? They were a total loss all their lives.

Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actor/actress would you want to play you and why?

Please let there be a movie. I’ll get a lot of money from it. And I’ll be able to go to a really great college without everyone hearing about pathetic Amy and her loser brother, Bryce. Who should play me? Jena Malone. She rocks. She’s that actress from the Hunger Games and she will do me very well. But she has to come see me, talk to me about how to make the movie more about me and the problems those stupid Pearsons gave me.

Paradox Lost: The Ultimate Paradox with Author KC Sprayberry


Paradox Lost: The Ultimate Paradox releases January
15, 2016!

 

Welcome to book two of this series that is much like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.
If you had the chance to read Paradox Lost: Their Path, you came to know DJ, Matt, and Elisa, and discover the path destiny has laid out for them. In Paradox Lost: The Ultimate Paradox, these triplets each have to make their way through a series of obstacles and prepare for a showdown with Rogues.
This new story brings out new information about the Sullivans and the destiny none of them was aware would be theirs to claim, along with several big surprises.
Pre-order now! 
 
 
 
Blurb

The past changed
the future …
                                    
                                        . . . the
future must salvage the past.
Falsely accused of murdering his father, DJ faces a terrible penalty. That’s the least of his worries—Uncle Toby and his army of Rogues are bent on tearing history apart, and DJ and his allies have to stop them any way they can. But only a True Neutral can save their world, and The First, his family’s ancestor, is long dead. His brother Matt was killed by Toby’s actions, and his sister Elisa is fighting her own demons.
The past created by their uncle needs to be uncreated into what it was meant to be. And these three teenagers, triplets and direct descendants of The First, must learn to ally with each other to correct the errors made real in the past.
And the Gateways reveal themselves as something no one ever suspected….

 

About the Author:
Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up
with innovative tales from the South and beyond.
She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Some of her short stories have appeared in anthologies, others in magazines.

 

Social Media Links:

 

 

 
 
 
 

Frederick Crook dystopian sci-fi novel “Of Knight and Devil”

 

It is July, 2130, less than a year after the destruction of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, the
last of its kind in America. Major Reginald Mattersly of the British Army’s SRR
has been slowly making his way to the west coast, where he wishes to find a
home on the beach and live out the remainder of his life.

 

These plans are cut short when he is ambushed in Nevada by a mysterious trio of armed men. To his rescue comes a man of the 82nd Airborne who calls himself Elias Mulhaney. The two
of them continue on to a town called Lovelock, currently embattled with their
neighbors in Reno.

 

The mayor of Lovelock, Jazz Hernandez, is the prime target of her former lover, Gillespie, the mayor of
Reno. His mentality: If he can’t have her, no one can.

 

Mattersly and Mulhaney band together to infiltrate the city of Reno to rescue her kidnapped niece, Nora,
and destroy the factory that provides Gillespie’s military power.
In a post-Great Exodus Earth where there is no law and no national government, can there still be justice?
Reviews:
Frederick H. Crook is a masterful storyteller. He pits good against evil with a way different from most writers in the genre. The dialog is crisp and believable.” ~ Frank Scozzari
The entire book takes place over the course of a few days and honestly, I was bummed when it ended. You will never get bored reading this book.” ~ Melissa Massey-Maroni
I loved each page of this tale of hope. Anyone who still believes in the magic of heroism, should definitely have Of Knight & Devil in their bookcase.” ~ Susan Lynn Solomon
Just check out this excerpt!

 

            “I have to reload here,” Mulhaney said. “Both belts are about out.”
            “Do it. Quickly,” Reginald replied.
            Just as he finished speaking, an explosion rocked the parking garage.
            “What the hell was that?” Elias wondered aloud and froze. “Artillery?”
            “Just reload, now!” Reginald ordered. Seeing no one beyond his driver’s window, the major dared open his driver’s hatch to listen.
            Another explosion rocked the building, this time more violently. Angel opened the infantry hatch and took a look behind them. Bits of concrete and dust filled the air around the two
machines. Just as she was ducking back inside, a third explosion struck the building, directly above them. The outer hull was struck with falling concrete from the ceiling.
            “Mortars!” Reginald shouted into the microphone for the benefit of their new ally, Sergeant Schamski. He slammed the driver’s hatch, locked it, and extracted himself from the seat, leaving the helmet behind. “Angel, get into the driver’s position and move if I tell you. We are being shelled!”
            With that order given, the major snatched up his Dragunov and lowered the rear ramp.
            “Major, I don’t know how to drive this thing!” she protested.
            “Just do it! Shut the door when I get clear!” he shouted as the next mortar round struck against the side of the parking structure, this time on their floor. Mattersly was shielded by flying bits of
concrete by Necromancer, which was immediately covered in dust.
            Reginald used the dust as cover for his run to the southwest corner of the building. He had judged from the trajectory of the first three rounds that whoever was launching the mortars would be found in that direction. He crouched low as he met with the wall, pulled his beret from his tunic’s breast pocket and placed it on his head. The action was more out of necessity than pride, for the gray surface of the cap would not reflect the sunlight. Another mortar round struck nearly the same place as before, only one floor below. Wasting no time, he took a peek over the top of the waist-high wall, where his eyes found another large hotel across the street. Having adjusted his eyes for distance, he immediately located the mortar crew, which had taken a room on a floor slightly below the level of the garage on which Necromancer and Wolfhunter were trapped.
            He quickly reset his eyesight to normal and brought up his Dragunov, being careful to remain in the shadows. Reginald watched as the crew fired a sixth round. In seconds, it was clear that this one was going to be rather close. He lay flat and covered his head as the round struck just left of his position, taking out the short wall and the leading edge of the pavement. Mattersly felt several bits of concrete strike him and was covered by dust.
            His ears rang despite the audio devices’ cancellation attempts and his eyes burned from the dust. Reginald noted that Necromancer had again opened fire on targets trying to come up to their level. Without further thought, the major rose upon one knee, lifted his rifle to his shoulder and located a target. It was the mercenary attending or perhaps firing the mortar.
            Reginald squeezed the trigger and dropped him. Training told him to move to another location, but he had found Renoite militia to be undertrained and inexperienced. He found a second target.
This one was another militiaman which came to the aid of the man Reginald had just brought down. With another squeeze of the trigger, the second man was felled.
            This time, Mattersly did drop to the floor to crawl to another location. It was none too soon, as the place where he had just fired from was struck with a smattering of assault weapon rounds,
returned from the militiamen supporting the mortar. As the two Stryker’s fired at targets that he could not see, the major lifted his body onto his knee and prepared to take another look. Just then, the seventh round struck the parking garage, close enough to knock him flat. 
Available now in paperback or for your kindle, this fast-paced, dystopian adventure will keep you planted and reading!
This is Author Frederick H. Crook’s fourth novel, his third publication with Solstice Publishing, for which he also is employed as an editor.

 

For more news, visit Frederick’s website: http://frederickcrook.wix.com/crooksbooks
Connect on Twitter: @FrederickHCrook
Also, coming in early 2016, Campanelli: Siege of the Nighthunter

What should Authors expect to earn

This is a very insightful article from Huffington Post, including the comments section.

What Authors Should Expect to Earn

Hallowe’en giveaway

Join my friend Marie Lavender for her Hallowe’en giveaway on Twitter. Get all the info at http://marielavender.blogspot.com/

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My Latest Book:

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I am delighted to announce my new book Murder at Mother's was published in June 2017 by Stones Throw Publishing and is available in hardcopy and on Kindle at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca

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