[Book Tour. Guest Post]: Tier Zero, Vol I of the Knolan Cycle by D.B. Sayers

 

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At the Corner of Character and Plot

D.B. Sayers

Character-driven Versus Plot-driven Stories

You will often hear authors differentiate between character and plot-driven stories, not the least because most tend to gravitate naturally to one or the other. Most authors know which is their forté because it’s what they tend to focus on naturally in their writing. And as with being left or right-handed, neither is wrong, but both have consequences.
Authors favoring character-driven stories will tell the same story differently than authors focusing on plot. Character-focused authors see the story as being about how the characters are shaped by the events, rather than the events themselves. Their thoughts, feelings and growth or lack thereof. Authors favoring plot-driven stories focus on the action, drizzling snippets of the character’s thoughts almost as an entr’acte between significant events. Another way of looking at the difference is that plot-focused authors think of their stories as a continuum of interrelated happenings, while character-focused authors tend to think of their stories as a continuum of interrelated thoughts.

Finding Art that Fits

I mentioned earlier that there’s nothing inherently wrong with either a character or a plot-driven story. It’s mostly a matter of taste, though personally I think authors are at their best when they weave an elegant balance of character, plot, and conflict together into their story arc. But given our individual tastes, how do we as readers find more of what we’re looking for and less of what we don’t? Just a couple thoughts follow.

As fond as I am of evocative covers, as both an author and reader, I’m also painfully aware of the difficulty of encapsulating eighty thousand words in one cover. It’s probably worth the time to go deeper. Yes, yes, I know. We’ve all heard the aphorism, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. But how many of us have been guilty of deciding based purely on the cover before reading a word? Go just a little deeper and read the book description and if you’re on Amazon, the “look inside” feature. In a bookstore, take the time to read the first few pages.
Usually, if the book description doesn’t tip us off, the first few pages will. Most of us know  whether we prefer a character-driven, plot-driven, or balanced story. In today’s publishing environment, availability is not the problem. Take the time to choose the art that fits your taste and enjoy. That’s what art is for, after all and all of us are richer for it.

 

 

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The Knolan Cycle, Book 1
Genre: Science Fiction (First Contact)/Science Fiction (Romance)/Science Fiction (Military)
Date Published: November 26, 2019
Publisher: PhoenixPhyre

They’re already here, and no one knows about it…yet.

 

Two bedrock assumptions seem to find their way into almost all science fiction tales of first contact between Earth and a hypothetical alien race. The first is that we will necessarily know when it happens and the second is that alien motives will likely be malevolent. In Tier Zero, Vol. I of The Knolan Cycle, first contact occurred over thirty years ago and no one on Earth…not even SETI…has a clue it has happened.

Martin Tellus is a graduate student at UCLA. His past is riddled with mystery, including a lifelong recurring dream he cannot explain. And just as a volcano’s first discharges of gas and magma often signal a coming eruption, Marty’s dreams signal a transformative change. The transformation arrives in the form of a “chance” meeting with Lysia in philosophy class. Their connection is instantaneous.

A seductive Asian woman with an untraceable accent, Lysia sticks to Marty’s thoughts. During a casual conversation after their next class, Lysia offers to teach Marty “eastern” philosophy. But to Marty’s surprise, her teachings open a mind-bridge between them, accompanied by an intense physical connection. And Marty’s progress doesn’t end with the connection he and Lysia share. As her teachings progress, he discovers new powers, at once exhilarating and disquieting. Not for the first time, he wonders,  who is Lysia really?

Marty’s questions have answers, but Lysia isn’t telling. At least not yet. The truth is she’s a Seeker and Waykeeper of Knola, in a nearby arm of our common galaxy. She’s been waiting for Marty’s awakening, specifically to be on hand to mentor him in the Way. As Marty’s powers grow with Lysia’s teachings, she realizes he’s unique in ways not even the Oracle, to whom Lysia answers foresaw.

Lysia finds Marty’s growth in the Way at once inspiring and unnerving. Sharing her concerns with her superiors back on Knola, she precipitates a fateful decision that will change Marty’s life and alter the history of both Earth and the Knolan Concordant. Tier Zero begins Marty’s perilous journey to a destiny beyond his—or anyone’s—imaginings.

Tier Zero, Volume I of The Knolan Cycle was published in November 2019. Eryinath-5, Volume II in the series is due out from PhoenixPhyre Publishing in 2021.

 

 

About the author 

 

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Dirk’s path to authorship wasn’t quite an accident, but almost. It’s not that he didn’t write. He did. But through two previous careers, first as a Marine officer and subsequently as a corporate trainer, Dirk started way more stories than he finished.” But in the backwash of the 2008 financial meltdown, his employer filed for Chapter 11. Cordially invited to leave and not return, Dirk found himself out of work and excuses.
Since then, Dirk has published West of Tomorrow, Best-Case Scenario and a collection of short fiction entitled, Through the Windshield. Works in progress include A Year of Maybes, sequel to Best Case Scenario and Tier Zero, Volume I of the Knolan Cycle now available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle.
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[Book Blitz]: Living Among the Dead by Adena Bernstein Astrowsky

 

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Genre: Biography/Memoir/History/Nonfiction/Jewish Studies/WWII

Date Published: March 3, 2020

Publisher: Amsterdam Publishers

This is the story of one remarkable woman’s unimaginably horrific journey through the rise of the Nazi regime, the war, and the aftermath. Her story is narrated by her granddaughter and the book is interwoven with beautiful passages of poetry and personal reflection by the survivor, Mania, as she used writing as a medium to deal with the effects of the war. Most Jews did not die in concentration camps. Instead, they were murdered in their lifelong communities, slaughtered by mass killing units, and then buried in pits.

Mania lived in labor camps and witnessed these inconceivable sightings while doing everything within her power to subsist. Although she was the sole survivor of her family, Mania went on to rebuild a new life in a new country, with a new language and new customs, always carrying with her the losses of her family and memories of the brutality she witnessed and lived through. Nearly eighty years post liberation of the Holocaust, we are still witnessing acts of cruelty born out of hatred and discrimination.

Living among the Dead reminds us of the beautiful communities that existed before WWII, the lives lost and those that lived on, and the importance to never forget these stories so that history does not repeat itself.

 

 

 

Living Among the Dead Blitz

 

About the author

 

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Adena Astrowsky has dedicated her career to helping the most vulnerable of our society. She did this by prosecuting child sexual abuse cases and domestic violence cases within the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. She became the local expert concerning the prosecution of domestic violence related strangulation cases and taught extensively on that subject.
Currently, she handles post-conviction cases on appeal and foreign extradition cases. Adena taught Sunday School at her temple for eight years, and in her last two years she co-taught “Character Development Through the Studies of the Holocaust.” Adena contributes articles to MASK (Mothers Awareness on School-age Kids) Magazine, often writing about children’s safety, drugs, law and order, etc.
Once a month Adena volunteers at a local Scottsdale library with her therapy dog, Charlie, as part of the Tail Waggin’ Tales Program. Adena has also chaired events to raise money for the Emily Center of Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Adena’s greatest role, however, is as the mother of three very active children. She, and her husband, Brad, are kept very busy with their respective dance, theater, music, and athletic activities.

 

 

Contact Links

Websitewww.adenaastrowsky.wixsite.com/website

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/Adena-Astrowsky-101271728050377/

Twitter: @adena_astrowsky

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/adena_astrowsky/

 

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[Release Blitz]: Lake Effect by K.C. Gillis

 

 

Lake Effect

 

A Jordan Reed Mystery

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Release Date: May 26, 2020

Publisher: Chesterfield Press

Mysterious marina accidents. Destroyed evidence. Can a tenacious reporter decipher the twisted clues at a small-town lake?

Jordan Reed is burned out from all the attention on her previous high-profile story. But when a new lead lands in her lap, she reluctantly postpones her vacation to investigate a classic New England marina. With hundreds of dead fish washing up on Copper Lake’s otherwise pristine shores, Jordan suspects a sinister cover-up.

But by the time she arrives on the scene, she’s surprised to discover the police chief eliminated every last carcass and seems hellbent on blocking her inquiries. And her search for the culprit takes a perilous turn when gambling kingpins descend on the city and a string of unexplained calamities plague the docks.

Can Jordan expose the corruption, or will she be the next to go belly-up?

Lake Effect is the second book in the fast-paced Jordan Reed mystery series. If you like steely female sleuths, gripping action, and clever twists that’ll keep you guessing, then you’ll love K.C. Gillis’s page-turning mystery.

Buy Lake Effect to dive into dangerous waters today!

Other Books in the Jordan Reed Mystery series:

 

Toxic Deception Book One

 

Toxic Deception

A Jordan Reed Mystery

Publisher: Chesterfield Press

Published: February 2020

Strange symptoms. Bloody secrets. Can one reporter solve a medical mystery before she ends up in a body bag?

Jordan Reed put her world on hold to hunt down corruption. So when the gutsy journalist gets tipped off about blood money changing hands at a pharmaceutical factory, she dives into the story. With an otherwise healthy worker dropping dead of multiple organ failure, Jordan suspects something far more sinister than a simple accident…

Daring to go up against big pharma, she gains an ally on the inside and recruits two friends to join the investigation. But after a string of false leads and tight-lipped witnesses, she ties her case to disturbingly similar evidence in a medical trial on the other side of the globe. And if she doesn’t expose the lethal conspiracy soon, Jordan is terrified she and her team could be the next victims of the lethal cover-up.

Can Jordan take down a greedy corporation before they sacrifice more lives in the drive for profit?

Toxic Deception is the first book in the gripping Jordan Reed thriller series. If you like tenacious heroines, underdog stories, and edge-of-your-seat action, then you’ll love K.C. Gillis’s page-turning tale.

Buy Toxic Deception to unravel a contagious mystery today!

 

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About the author 

 

Lake Effect Author K.C. Gillis

K.C. (Kevin) Gillis is the author of the Jordan Reed mystery series. Despite being a lifelong lover of stories and books, writing took a distant back seat as his professional career travelled through the Canadian Air Force, a decade as a chemist, followed by a long and continuing run in corporate America.
With writing no longer in the back seat (but not quite yet in the front seat), Kevin now has the Jordan Reed series well underway. His personal interests focus on endurance and water sports. Having grown up in the Canadian Maritimes, he now lives in the US northeast.

 

 

Contact Links 

Website: http://www.kcgillis.com

Twitte: http://twitter.com/kcgilliswriter

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kcgilliswriter

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/kcgilliswriter

Promo Link: http://bookbuzz.net/blog/mystery-thriller-lake-effect/ 

 

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[Book Blitz]: Speakeasy by A. M. Dunnewin

 

 

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Genre: Suspense Thriller / Historical

Date Published: 21 December 2011

Publisher:  Dark Hour Press, LLC

The novella is centered on Eddie Durante, owner of a speakeasy who’s supported by his mobster uncle—the boss of the Durante family. Eddie is a young widower after his family’s rival, the Caprice family, murdered his wife over a territory dispute. After devising a plan that retaliated against four of the rivaling capos, Eddie is left with the daunting task to try and move on. That is, until he’s notified that the Caprices have put a hit man in the speakeasy—and Eddie’s name is on the list. But things take an unexpected turn when Eddie instead starts to find the dead bodies of his relatives, the ones who had helped in the retaliation.

Behind the backdrop of jazz music and glistening flappers, murder after murder begins to unravel as revenge takes center stage, and Eddie soon learns that some secrets can’t be taken to the grave.

 

 

 

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Excerpt

Once the doors were closed, Sal didn’t take long to get right to the point. “They know it was you, Eddie.”

The words slapped him across the face, but Eddie didn’t respond.

“That you were the one who came up with the idea,” Sal continued. “They’re out for retaliation, and it’s rumored that they’ve sent a torpedo into this juice joint of yours. That’s part of the reason why I’m not being too open with the information. Afraid of who might be listening.”

A hit man in his speakeasy. Eddie stared out the windshield, watching Sal begin to light a cigarette out of the corner of his eye. “I had a lot of ideas,” he remarked hoarsely, fear and dread subtly mixing into his thoughts.

“Only took one,” Sal responded as he lit the cigarette. He silently offered one to Eddie, who refused with a shake of his head. “Sorry, kid,” Sal explained as he took a puff. “After what they did to your wife, I wouldn’t have blamed ya.”

Eddie remained silent, his eyes drifting to the bootleggers who were moving the last of the crates. No wonder they weren’t laying their eyes on him. He was a dead target.

Sal took another drag on his cigarette, taking a moment for himself. “Don’t worry, though,” he finally remarked. “Your family’s got your back. My brother-in-law, your dear uncle, has requested that Joe stay by your side until we can square away if there’s a torpedo and who it is.”

“What?” Eddie balked, shattering his calm exterior.

“It’s temporary,” Sal cooed, trying to calm the young man down. “He’s just some extra protection.”

Eddie gawked, unable to believe that they’d send Joe, of all people, to protect him. “He’s crazy,” was all Eddie could summarize when it came to his cousin.

“He’s happy,” Sal tried to smooth over.

Trigger happy,” Eddie corrected.

Sal shrugged his shoulders. “He gets the job done. And when the boss’ favorite nephew needs protection, the boss will only send the very best.”

“I don’t need protection,” Eddie fought back, trying not to raise his voice to the lunacy. “And even if I did, I have Anthony and Marcus in there—”

“Little orphan Anthony and Baby Marcus?” Sal choked, half laughing, half sputtering on the cigarette smoke. “Marcus is too naive, and Anthony,” but Sal had to chuckle first before he could continue. “Well, ya better just pray your killer isn’t a female.”

“Thanks for warning me,” Eddie begrudgingly admitted as he pulled the door handle…

 

About the author 

 

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A. M. Dunnewin grew up with a taste for mysteries and thrillers, inherited ever so lovingly from her family. An affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association, A. M.’s own stories cover a wide range of genres that tend to take a dark turn when least expected.

With a B.A. in Psychology, she’s a gambler of words, obsessed with chai tea, and addicted to books – everything from classical literature to graphic novels. Other hobbies include art, history, music, equestrianism, and a good classic film. She currently dwells in Northern California.

 

Contact Links

Website:  www.amdunnewin.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/A.M.Dunnewin

Twitter:  www.twitter.com/amdunnewin

Goodreads:  www.goodreads.com/author/show/540598.A_M_Dunnewin

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/amdunnewin/boards/

Instagram:  www.instagram.com/amdunnewin  

 

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[Book Blitz]: God of Small Affairs by Olga Werby

 

God of Small Affairs

 

Genre: Alternative History, Magical Realism

Published: September 2019

Publisher: Pipsqueak Productions

 

We are great at little things, at manipulating tiny threads of life. We are the gods of small affairs…until we are not.

“God of Small Affairs” is a creepy and slightly twisted mystery tale of a small mid-Western town, struggling to survive, told from the perspective of man who is culturally a stranger there and yet learns to find comfort and gives back love to people in need…his and those that reside in the town of Wilkins.

It’s a bit of a horror story, a bit of fantastical science fiction, and a take on what the world would be if one could talk directly to a god…even a god who is only interested in micro-management of human species.

 

 

God of Small Affairs on tablet with Kindle Unlimited Text

 

 

 

Excerpt

Chapter One: Derailed

Jon Uolan

The sharp sound of ripping leather disturbed Jon’s reverie. He looked down with a start; they both did. Ay-Tal’s knee-high black leather boots had split along the inside seam. With bated breath, Jon watched as the boot started to swell, letting the gray flesh squeeze out like stringy putty between sheared strips of leather. He of course knew about the metamorphosis—the Change—but it had all been very theoretical up till now. He inhaled subtly though his nose so as not to appear rattled and then looked up and caught Ay-Tal’s eyes. This was why he was here with her, right now, on this journey home.

Jon sat across from Ay-Tal in a small but private train cabin. She was almost thirty years his senior, but he thought she was still very beautiful. There was a severity to her features: a strong chin, a slight widow’s peak, dark, thick hair cut short with a few stray grays but not too many, full lips and dark gray eyes, long face and slim figure, very light skin. In short, she was everything he wasn’t—except for her eye color. Gray eyes were common among his tribe. There didn’t seem to be a trace of Inuit in her. And yet Jon knew her tribal roots ran far deeper than his own. His own great-great-grandmother was English, he was told, one of those who came to Alaska during the Gold Rush all those years ago. Ay-Tal was pure…

“How bad?” she managed to ask. Even under duress, her voice was deep and velvety—a perfect oration organ. It had been beautifully designed by his grandfather.

Jon bent down to examine the boot. In some places, the leather polish was thicker than the remaining leather. Even with extra care and regular repair, thirty years was just too long for city boots. He hoped they would last all the way to the little village hidden on the shores of Alaska’s National Coastal Conservation Area, but one didn’t always get all that was hoped. Jon’s father had made these boots to last the duration, and now it was Jon’s job to make them endure these last four thousand miles. Seal fur with a whale hide foundation would have been more durable, but it wouldn’t have been appropriate, not for Boston, not for Washington, D.C., and certainly not in front of the Supreme Court.

He lifted Ay-Tal’s legs onto his lap for a closer inspection and grabbed his tools. Pressing the sides of the ripped leather together, he started to carefully wrap the specially made leather tape over and over the boot’s perimeter to repair the damage. He felt the pressure ease a bit; the gray flesh composed of millions of intertwining threads retreated and resumed the shape of a human leg. The repair wouldn’t last long, but perhaps long enough to get home? He pulled the hunting knife to cut the tape and scrape away the frayed edges.

“Tickets!” The compartment door slid open, and the conductor stared at Jon.

Jon looked down at Ay-Tal’s legs bound in tape and the long blade in his hand and back up at the horrified face of the conductor. Ay-Tal tried to talk; it came out like strange whalesong moan. She waved to the conductor, but her muscular control was still off, and what should have been a friendly hello turned into spasmodic jerks. She came across as terrifying even to Jon, and he understood what was going on. “It’s not what it—” he started to say.

The conductor dropped his pad and whipped a pistol from behind his back. “Stop right there!” he ordered.

Jon dropped his knife and tried to straighten out. Ay-Tal let out a loud howl, more animal than human. It would take some time before she would be able to speak again; too much of the transformation had been triggered by the ripped boot.

“Don’t move!” screamed the man.

“It’s not what it looks like,” Jon tried to explain. But he could guess what it looked like to this uniformed man: a dark-skinned man with a scar above his eye (an old hunting accident) threatening a white woman in a business suit with a big knife after binding her legs together. How could he explain it away? And Ay-Tal wasn’t helping. “Officer,” Jon tried again. “I was just trying to help Ms. Blue with her—” He reached for Ay-Tal’s legal case to pull out some documents.

A shot rang out. Jon felt Ay-Tal twitch and push his body out of the path of the bullet. With horror, he watched a hole in Ay-Tal’s chest start to pulse blood. The conductor dropped the gun, terror twisting his face. Jon sprung up and pushed the man out of the cabin, shutting the door with a click of the lock. He picked up the gun and hid it in his own waistband in the back, just like the conductor. The gun was still hot.

Jon looked at Ay-Tal’s ashen face. She was losing blood fast. She was his responsibility, his god, his reason for existence. And he owed her his life now too. He felt sick from panic. She blinked and blinked again, but then her eyes rolled back, closed, and didn’t open again.

“Aguguq take me!” Jon grabbed the knife and started to cut the boots off Ay-Tal’s feet. Cut and pull, cut and pull. It got harder with each incision. Ay-Tal’s fibrous flesh started to expand and push out again. But the bleeding ebbed and then stopped. Ay-Tal only bled in human form, Jon was told. Remove the boots, remove the humanity. That’s how his grandfather shaped her; the whole tribe had worked on finding the right form for those boots. When Jon was done cutting them off, he stood over a gray, twined blob covered in bloody clothing. Well, at least Ay-Tal was alive. It was time to get off this train.

Jon pulled down his backpack, his only piece of luggage, and grabbed Ay-Tal’s briefcase full of documents that solidified the tribe’s position on legal ownership of its land and mineral resources. Fifty years of work couldn’t end just because some white man misunderstood what he saw on the train. Gathering the synthetic blankets that came with their cabin, he wrapped Ay-Tal as securely as he could and stuffed the bloodied clothing under the seat with her suitcase. He wasn’t sure why he bothered—the place looked like a murder scene. Blood everywhere…

With the backpack on, Jon put his ear to the door. There were the usual noises of the moving train but no additional screams or suspicious shuffling. He dared to crack open the door and look out. The long corridor, running from one end of the train car to the other between the cabins, was empty. He had already considered jumping out of the window, but he wasn’t sure Ay-Tal was strong enough to survive the awkward fall. And he wasn’t too sure he was. Too high a risk. That meant carrying Ay-Tal through the train, out to the gangway connection between cars, and jumping from there. Jon deemed that safer. No more than a minute had passed since the gunshot, and Jon expected the authorities to return at any moment, guns blazing. It was now or never.

He felt a slight change in the motion of the train; they were slowing down.

“Ay-Tal,” he said. “I’m sorry, but I see no other choice.” With that, he hoisted the gray body wrapped in the Pacific Railroad blankets over his shoulder, grabbed the briefcase, and ran down the corridor.

Jon made it to the back of their train car without incident and slid open the door. Once between cars, only flexible walls separated him from freedom. He carefully lowered Ay-Tal onto the floor. Using his knife, he twisted and jammed the locks to each of the adjoining cars. It wasn’t much but it would buy him a little more time. A few quick motions with his knife and he opened a hole in the flexible siding big enough to push through. All those years of practicing on whales, seals, and reindeer…

He picked up Ay-Tal like a baby with one hand, pressing her…it to his chest, and with a briefcase in his other hand, he rushed for the opening and jumped.

He rolled over and over down the steep incline away from the train tracks. The early snow somewhat softened the impact. At least he hoped it was the snow and not Ay-Tal’s body protecting him yet again. The briefcase, unfortunately, was slapped from his hand when he hit the ground.

“Are you okay?” Jon asked as soon as he was able; the fall knocked the wind out of him.

The gray, twisting blob that used to be a beautiful woman purred. Jon wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. His father and grandfather had told him stories, but even they only saw the Change once. And he didn’t think it was this dramatic back then. From what he was told, he imagined it was more like going into a room as one person and coming out as another…after many hours. He didn’t know if anyone in his tribe’s living memory had seen Ay-Tal for what it was…like this. It wasn’t revolting or anything. Jon wasn’t repulsed touching the soft, fibrous gray flesh, but he did find it difficult to look at it directly. He needed Ay-Tal to assume a human form again. Fast. Soon. The boots were gone. Ay-Tal would never again have the look of a highly educated lawyer from Harvard, arguing cases in front of the Supreme Court. That person was dead, just like the conductor and the rest would assume…jump to conclusions. Jon knew he would have too if he saw what that man saw. There will be a murder investigation, he realized.

“We need to get out of here,” he said. He stood up and looked for the briefcase. It wasn’t visible. He would have to come back for it once Ay-Tal was safely hidden. Even if the Union Pacific train was far in the distance now, Jon wasn’t naive enough to think they were out of trouble. There was going to be a search. He gently gathered Ay-Tal in his arms and carried her—he felt uncomfortable thinking of her as it—farther away into the shelter of the thick low boughs of the evergreens growing on the edge of the forested strip of land surrounding the train tracks. Tucking Ay-Tal out of view, Jon left to look for the briefcase.

All along the railway, there was garbage strewn about among the vegetation, trash snagged on craggy branches and caught among the barren bushes, tall, dead grasses, and exposed rocks of the late fall. Civilization slithered through nature, leaving its slimy discards. Jon felt disgusted and experienced a strong urge to pick the crap up off the forest floor. But that wasn’t what he was here for. He scanned the ground for the briefcase; it couldn’t have landed too far from where they hit the ground. It was well made so unlikely to have opened and spilled its precious contents all over Wisconsin…or was it Minnesota already? Jon wasn’t sure, but he had a map and a satellite phone in his backpack; normal smartphones were not very useful out in the far northern country of his people. Although all the kids had smart tablets and shared educational materials by linking those directly. Technology had changed his people in the last few decades, but far less than Ay-Tal had when she joined their tribe. There might not even have been a tribe without Ay-Tal.

He spotted the brown leather of the briefcase in a ditch off to the side. He rushed over and almost tripped over a kid’s Dora the Explorer backpack. It was so covered in mud that Jon almost didn’t recognize the friendly face from his childhood. He bent down and picked it up. Probably fell from the train, he thought. It felt heavy; he took a quick look inside. Girl’s clothing, a coloring book, and…Yes! A pair of little pink boots! An idea formed in Jon’s head. It was crazy, but it just might work. He grabbed the muddy briefcase in his other hand and rushed back to Ay-Tal.

Jon had never seen the Change ritual; he was only a few months old for the most recent one. He had been told about it, of course, but hoped never to have to personally put into practice the legends of his fathers. There were chanting and singing and some drumming, but Jon believed all that was for his people’s benefit and not strictly necessary. He knelt before the gray form that was bundled in the ugly blankets and maneuvered the child-sized pink boots under the soft flesh. It almost felt like the gray tendrils burrowed into the earth beneath the Ay-Tal’s body, merging with networks of tubular filaments of mycelia that Jon knew naturally permeated the ground under the tree.

“Ay-Tal?” he said softly. “I know this is not what you would want. And I will help you with…with something else later.” He felt uncomfortable even talking about the Change, much less requesting Ay-Tal to become a child for him. But he saw no other way. The authorities would be looking for him and a woman. An injured woman. Perhaps if he posed as a father of a little girl… “Please?”

Slowly, oh so very slowly, thin tendrils snaked their way into the tiny boots. His father told him it took over a week for Ay-Tal to become the woman he met. How long would it take now? Back then, his grandfather spent several years designing the person Ay-Tal would need to become to win the tribe’s case in front of the Supreme Court. Ay-Tal knew what was required of her and helped shape that person. But now? How would it work now? Jon sat and watched and prayed to Aguguq that the metamorphosis didn’t take too long.

He woke up with a start. It was dark and very cold. The moon was out; he could see its light shining through the branches of their tree. A small hand touched his cheek.

“Jon?” The voice was very high. A small child was staring at him from inside a nest of blankets. “Will this work?”

“Ay-Tal?” It was one thing to know about the Change, but to witness the transformation? Jon was shaken. The child in front of him was no more than five, perhaps even younger. A skinny little arm was attached to a tiny little hand with miniature fingers. The eyes staring at him were deep blue, with just a hint of gray around the edge. A bit of red hair poked out from under the dirty cloth. That and those pink boots.

“Will this work?” the child asked again.

Jon forced himself to focus. “Yes. That’s very good, Ay-Tal.” It felt strange complimenting a god. “Thank you.” He quickly looked at the child’s face and then had to look away—too strange. “I have some clothing here.” He pulled out the Dora the Explorer bag and gave it to Ay-Tal. “If you could dress, we should try to get out of here as quickly as possible. They will be looking for us.”

The child nodded and took the bag. There were some pink tights, a t-shirt with another Dora print on it, and a sweatshirt. The clothing was covered in mud and blooming with spots of mold. Not enough to keep a child warm, Jon noted to himself. Ay-Tal wiggled out of the blankets and started to put on the clothing, slipping off only one boot at a time.

The child was male, Jon noticed in shock.

When done, Ay-Tal smiled at him. “Ready?”

“Y-yes,” he stammered. “Are you cold or anything?”

“I will be,” the boy answered. “But not yet. It takes time to adjust to the Change.”

“Yes, of course.” Jon had no idea what that meant. “Can you walk?”

“Only for as long as a kid my age can,” the boy said with a smile…a very adult smile. “And call me Al. I think it works better for this body, don’t you?”

“Al. I can do that.” Jon tried to smile back, but it didn’t work—his face refused to make it. So he gathered their meager possessions, rearranging his backpack so he could carry all of the legal documents on his back and tied the rest into a bundle made from one of the blankets. Ay-Tal…Al put on the dirty little backpack and tried to bury the briefcase under the many seasons of pine needles and other detritus surrounding the base of their tree hideout.

“Let me help you with that,” Jon said and with just a few movements of his wide hands finished the job of concealing the bag. It would be found, of course. But anything to give them additional time to melt into the American landscape was worth it.

The child that was Ay-Tal watched him cover the now empty briefcase and strip a dead branch to make a stick to tie up their bundle for ease of carrying; a hobo stick. They climbed together from under the tree. Jon swung the bundle over his shoulder, resting the stick on the strap of his backpack. Al gave him his hand, like a child would. And they walked into the woods, away from the tracks. Jon hoped to find some shelter before the moon set. In this part of the country, they were really never too far from civilization…for better or worse.

A few hours later, Jon was carrying the sleeping child over his shoulder, wrapped in a blanket like a burrito. He walked on the shoulder of US-12, a highway he had located on his map, pegging their position near the town of Wilkins, Wisconsin. It was still dark and there was no traffic, but Jon was ready to jump into the trees along the side of the road if he spotted any headlights. He was sure there was a manhunt on for him and didn’t want to take any chances.

They would need to stop and buy more appropriate clothing for Al. He almost said “Ay-Tal” in his head but stopped himself. That name was dangerous now—too memorable and too easily connected to current events. How many Inuit lawyers named Ay-Tal Blue that just won an argument in the highest court of land were there? She was all over the news last week and would be again now, for totally different reasons. Jon shifted his shoulders, and the child gave a soft sigh. Poor kid tried to walk by himself, and only after Jon pointed out that he was slowing them down did Al allow himself to be carried.

She doesn’t just mimic the attributes of the person she changes into—she fully inhabits that person, he remembered his father telling him. For good or bad, Al was a little kid now. Jon wondered if Al remembered all her…his previous lives. He must. Or it just doesn’t work. He decided to ask later, the next time it was convenient to have such a conversation.

Jon also needed to let his tribe know what happened. He was wary of using phones, but there was an email account set up that he could use to draft a message in code. Messages from that account were never sent, in order to avoid interception in transit. Someone back home checked the account several times a day and read all of the unsent email drafts. Nothing was ever addressed to anyone; nothing ever moved across the network. Ay-Tal had set up the message drop system when the Internet came online, decades ago. Now the whole tribe used this spy-craft stuff. Encryptions, codes, secure passwords, cyber currency, anonymous accounts… It had all been fun and games until now. But Ay-Tal taught them well; clearly, she foresaw it might become necessary someday.

He needed papers for Al. There was no easy way to get over the Canadian border without passports. And the kid didn’t look like his son. A shame, that. It would have been so much easier if Al was a dark-haired, dark-eyed, dark-skinned little boy. People would ask questions, the way Al looked. Perhaps they could use hair dye and sunglasses; it would work at a distance, but not at the border inspection or during any other interaction with authorities. Jon felt cold sweat run down his back as he thought of the police arresting him for murder and taking Al away. They would accuse him of child trafficking, too, and put Ay-Tal in foster care. He needed to stay away from people as much as possible and come up with a good cover story. He could change his appearance somewhat; he could shave his head and grow a beard, perhaps. Would that confuse any face-recognition systems? He could use skin-lightening creams. He could dye his hair red to match Al’s. But then his passport… He was never into the cloak-and-dagger stuff; he was a traditional Inuit artisan, just like his father and his father’s father before him.

A squat building with white walls and a dark-shingled roof surprised Jon out of the early morning mist. “Wilkins Nite Club” said giant letters across the entire facade. On one corner of the building, there were signs of fire damage that were patched up and covered with two giant flags, Wisconsin’s and the Stars and Stripes. Jon looked around. There were no other structures close by and no cars parked in the gravel-covered parking lot. He dashed into the lot and behind the nightclub. He needed to rest a bit and change his own clothing. All this mud and blood would attract attention. Back on the train, Jon never got to the point where his and Ay-Tal’s tickets were actually checked—the conductor never learned their names. Would the conductor remember what they…he looked like? People were notorious for being lousy eyewitnesses. And he still needed to dispose of Ay-Tal’s IDs; it would not be good to be found with those.

He lowered Al, still wrapped in the Pacific Railroad blanket, onto the back porch. The ground was wet and cold, covered in a silvery frost. “These blankets have to go too,” Jon mumbled under his breath, which came out as a small silver cloud about his face. “Should have left ’em under that tree for the police to find.” But the kid was cold. “Aguguq. So much to do.”

Al was sleeping peacefully. He looked like a little cherub from one of those greeting cards. And that was a big problem. Jon actually didn’t look like a typical Inuit—those English genes. He was taller than average for his people, just under six feet, and his eyes were an unexpected dark gray, not brown. But who would take the time to check his eye color when looking at Al’s wide blue-as-a-clear-March-sky eyes? Aguguq, help me.

And looks like a girl too, Jon continued his train of thought. A little white blue-eyed boy…or girl traveling with a guy like him raised eyebrows as well as questions. He needed to get the kid sex-appropriate clothing, something dark and grungy. But those boots… He looked at the shocking patch of pink sticking out from under the drab navy-blue blanket. Those had to stay. So more raised eyebrows, more questions.

He pulled out Ay-Tal Blue’s wallet and passport. Keep or destroy? As far as Jon knew, Al would never be able to take on that identity again. If they were discovered with these… Jon stuffed the papers deep into his backpack and lay down next to the child, pressing the little body close. The kid was still cold and made pathetic little snorts in his sleep. A child who is not a child. How do I keep him safe? And with that thought, Jon fell fast asleep.

 

About the author 

 

God of Small Affairs Author Olga Werby

Olga Werby got her B.A. from Columbia University in Mathematics and Astrophysics and worked at NASA on the Pioneer Venus Project as a programmer. She received her masters from U.C. Berkeley in Education of Maths, Science, and Technology and went on to earn a doctorate in education. Together with her husband and business partner, Olga conceives, designs, and creates products, ideas, websites, and exhibits. Along the way, she writes science fiction.

Olga is an indie author. Her stories have won awards and got some nice reviews (thank you, readers!).

 

Contact Links

Websitehttp://www.Interfaces.com

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/OlgaWerby

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/OlgaWerby/

Promo Link: http://bookbuzz.net/blog/alternative-history-god-of-small-affairs/ 

 

 

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[Guest Post]: Paths in the Storm by Ilana Maor

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Jewish historical novel based on a true story

Genre: Historical novel

Date Published: September 10, 2018

Publisher: Alonim

The turbulent events in Europe of the first half of the 20th century find Marek fighting successive obstacles fate places in his way. A descendant of a family of physicians, Marek demonstrates extraordinary resourcefulness and imagination, persistently creating his own path towards completing his studies and building his life.

Max is a well-known filmmaker whose life story parallels that of the development of the cinema worldwide, starting from its earliest stages. The heroines are ambitious, each one in her way, their love stories undergoing huge upheavals both due to personal reasons as well as a result of the stormy times. The characters, based in part on real persons, find unconventional paths leading them, against all odds, to lives of fulfilment.

Paths in the Storm is a fascinating historical novel, depicting the personal stories and great loves of four generations of two families which are entwined with the major historical developments of the century, often regarded from less known perspectives. The rapid sequence of events unfolds across Europe from Switzerland through Poland, France, and the Soviet Union. Connections from different worlds bring together people of science and medicine, finance, diplomacy as well as art and bohemia and, on the other side, descendants of a well-known rabbinic dynasty.

 

 

 

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Guest Post by Ilana Maor 

 

Most of my life I have been living in Haifa, Israel. I am married and have two children and five grandchildren. I have a Ph.D. in Chemistry and have been working in science ever since. Through the years, I have worked at the Technion, Haifa, the European Union and the Israeli Innovation Authority.
From childhood I have been active in music – playing the piano and singing. I play chamber music with musicians of the Haifa University and sing in a small ensemble. I have been a very fast reader from childhood and usually read more than a book per week, mainly at night. Over the years I took courses in creative writing but never thought I would write a book. While in mourning after my parents, friends asked me about their lives and when I told some of the family history they said: “What a drama, you must write a book”. I did not pay attention at that time. It took a few years to start thinking about the idea, especially after publishing my first book of poems.

Then it took some more time of historical/geographical research to start the actual writing. Some of the real characters in the book I found in Wikipedia. This was a great surprise for me, and it also helped build their story. My husband and I travelled to Basel, Warsaw, Pisa, and Bordeaux to follow the paths of the main characters during the first half of the 20th century. This was an adventure I would never forget. In 2013, we
met in Bordeaux with the professors of the Polyethnic, where my father finished his engineering studies with honours, just before Word War II. The week with them was unforgettable, and the pictures we took are still circulating constantly on the digital picture frame in our living room.

These meetings gave me a real push to continue writing and reach the ending.
Some of my inspiration came from Ken Follett’s 20th Century Trilogy. He has the special talent of telling a family saga, while also describing so beautifully historical events, happening simultaneously in many places.
Sometimes when I think of the hardships that the characters had to overcome, I am really unable to comprehend how they still had strong willpower and energy to build such family lives and also achieve so much professionally.
Returning to the past and even learning more about it while researching and writing the book, brings me even closer to my own family, husband, children, and grandchildren. This terrible story makes us appreciate life, love, family, and friends. It also makes me to appreciate more life in a democratic country, where one can feel free, have the right to their own opinion, the right to choose their profession, and their path in general.
I really hope you love my book which had been written in five years, between my work and family duties, and cost me many tears as the narrative developed, both of sadness and joy.

 

About the author: 

 

Dr. Ilana Maor’s Paths in the Storm, now available in English, received enthusiastic reviews for its original Hebrew edition. The book has been recommended by Haaretz (premier Israeli newspaper), Haifa News and many other local papers in Israel. Some of the additional readers’ praises: “One of the best books I have read about this period…”. “Captivating. Wholeheartedly recommend it.” “Amazing story, full of events…touches every one of us…”. “The writer’s epic ability makes the story delightful and fascinating… Very recommended”. (Nuritha – Israel’s largest website for literary critics).

Maor was born in Germany and has lived most of her life in Israel. The novel was inspired by extraordinary lives of some real people on the background of the historical events that deeply affected them. She holds a master’s degree from the Weizmann Institute of Science and a PhD from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Chemistry. She managed the Departments of Scientific Relations and Intellectual Property at the Technion and in recent years is the proprietor of a private consultancy firm for international scientific ventures as well as evaluating new projects for the European Union and for the Israel Innovation Authority.

Since she was a child, Maor has been attracted to literature, music and the arts and has studied poetry and fiction. In 2012, Maor published a book of poems Trifles of Love, which earned outstanding reviews. Paths in the Storm is her second book.

 

Contact Link

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42932285-paths-in-the-storm?

 

Purchase Link Amazon 

 

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[Release Blitz]: The Org by Scott Brody

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Genre: Political Thriller
Date Published: April 14, 2020
Publisher: Waterton Publishing Company
The Org, is set in the near future, when the effects of the global climate crisis are leading to food shortages, extreme deteriorating weather conditions, and increasing panic. After the mysterious murder of one of his followers, the leader of the EcoParty, Lee Beloit, uses his charisma, skill, and guile to transform his organization from a tiny cult-like party into a national movement, with fighting climate change as his platform. His polling numbers are way up, and his movement is growing exponentially, but he and his followers are in the fight of their lives, as President Leo Pine sends people to battle Org members in the streets. Beloit fights back, pushing his people to the breaking point. He decides the time is right to declare for the Democratic Party nomination for President.
 But journalist Walt Jones is preparing to expose the fact that Beloit is protecting a killer. The NYPD is pulling search warrants to find out what Beloit’s campaign knows about the murder. After years of obscurity, Beloit is finally becoming a real factor in American politics, but he knows his campaign could collapse if this came out. He is determined not to let that happen. His top lieutenant, Juan Garcia, decides it’s time for him to act and initiates a plan to silence any threats to the campaign.
The Org Blitz
About the author: 

Head Shot Scott Brody (1)

I grew up in a political home in New York, where some of my first memories were of the older generations arguing about politics, meeting and supporting candidates, going off on freedom rides, and supporting Adlai Stevenson and the young nation of Israel. In my teens, in the 1960’s I learned from, and joined in, the political and cultural ferment of the time.
I marched against the war in Vietnam, listened to Jean Shepherd on WOR and to WBAI until all hours, read Ray Bradbury and Ramparts, and ended the decade going to Woodstock in 1969, the summer I graduated from High School. After college, I spent a few years in a political group similar to the one fictionally depicted in The Org. After that, I got into broadcasting, married my wife Judy, and we had a daughter and two sons. We now have a grandson and live in Southern California.
Contact Links
Twitter: @scottbrody1000
Purchase Links: Amazon

 

[Book Review]: The Old Man’s Request by Joab Stieglitz

 

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Genre: Horror, thriller, noir

Published: November 3rd, 2018

Publisher: Rantings of a Wandering Mind

 

Fifty years ago, a group of college friends dabbled in the occult and released a malign presence on the world. Now, on his deathbed, the last of the students enlists the aid of three newcomers to banish the thing they summoned.Hampered by the old man’s greedy son, the wizened director of the university library, and a private investigator with a troubled past, can Russian anthropologist Anna Rykov, Doctor Harry Lamb, and Father Sean O’Malley gather the knowledge and resources needed to defeat the entity?The Old Man’s Request is a pulp adventure set in the 1920s, and the first part of the Utgarda Trilogy.

 

About the author:  

Joab Stieglitz was born and raised in the Warren, New Jersey. He is an Application Consultant for a software company.  He has also worked as a software trainer, a network engineer, a project manager, and a technical writer over his 30 year career. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

He is an avid tabletop RPG player and game master of horror, espionage, fantasy, and science fiction genres, including Savage Worlds (Mars, Deadlands, Agents of Oblivion, Apocalypse Prevention Inc, Herald: Tesla and Lovecraft, Thrilling Tales, and others), Call of Cthulhu, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and Pathfinder.

Joab channeled his role-playing experiences in the Utgarda Series, which are pulp adventure novels with Lovecraftian influences set in the 1920’s.

You can follow Joab on Twitter @JoabStieglitz and his blog joabstieglitz.com

 

 

My review: 

This is the first book of Joab Stieglitz I’ve read. The author has made a lot of research and described well the dark and unsettling atmosphere of the place. All characters are believable, but Anna, a Russian anthropologist, is probably, my favourite one. She’s a strong woman who went through a lot in her life, but didn’t lose her charm and drive.
It’s not quite clear though what exactly has happened to her in Dr. Lamb’s house, and it stays a mystery. I hope to learn more about it in the next book.
I’d also prefer to learn more about detective, his first encounter with a ritual, and people who conducted it. In the book, it’s described only once as his flashback. It’s not quite clear on what stage he became possessed by a demon.
The book has a bit of horror and graphic violence in it, but just enough to keep it within the noir/paranormal genre, without going too gory. The plot is well-balanced and fast-paced which I like in thrillers.
A bit too much details of the characters’ appearance and description of the places, but I suppose, it’s a part of the author’s style.
I’d recommend this book to all fans of Lovecraftian horror and fast-paced thrillers. It’s a great, easy, quick read.

 

Purchase Links:

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[Book Blitz]: Gardenia Duty by Kathleen Varn

 

Gardenia Duty

 

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: June 2019
Publisher: Gatekeeper Press
In 1957 jobs are scarce in rural Ashland, Alabama. Bobby Higgins is facing life decisions; his family’s farm struggles and threat of the draft hangs over 18-year-old males as the Cold War rumbles in the distance. Bobby heads off to boot camp, vowing to provide for his family from his pay. Between shore and sea duty, Bobby leaves broken hearts in every port. When his own heart is stolen by Rose, he’s shocked to learn that she comes with four daughters, a package deal he’s unsure he wants. But when Rose disappears, Bobby finds her and persuades her to marry him. Somehow they navigate their way through the trials of marriage and parenting as he fulfills his patriotic career and his promise to raise four willful daughters. In the spring of 2004, his daughters are brought together by grief. They forge new bonds, sharing their joys, losses, regrets, and ultimately family secrets that will seal all their fates…if they can summon the courage to report for duty.
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About the author: 
Gardenia Duty Author - Kathleen Varn
Kathleen Varn’s love affair with words manifested when she turned four and taught herself to read.
As she grew older, books and reading were an escape from responsibility. Eventually, Kathleen dove into journaling, which helped her find solace in the grief of a toxic relationship. Kathleen is now very happily married to her soulmate.
She resides in Charleston, South Carolina, where she worked for an adoption attorney for twenty-three years.
Her first novel, Ameera Unveiled, released in 2013. Gardenia Duty is her second novel.
Excerpt
Acknowledgements
           Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense but the past perfect! —Owens Lee PomeroyNostalgia. This is an emotional word that con-jures body language from a slow sweet smile, eye rolls or a furled brow that delights the der-matologist reaching for a Botox needle. I believe it is an underrated emotion but also one that requires balance. Mental health professionals also validate the value of cop-ing in the present by looking at the past to find hope for a future outcome. It can remind us and regroup our sense of purpose. So, when I began to pursue the story of what became Gardenia Duty, I chose to marry the relation-ships of the adults of the Silent Generation with the Baby Boomer descendants. This would create the social setting of the prospering America during a relatively peaceful time.
          Each generation would look through the eyes of a child and the eyes of an adult. Fortunately, it is at the root of my own childhood that I knew where to draw my research. To weave the sto-ry’s perspective from the young adult sisters reliving the past through the eyes of a child allowed me to use stories of many people. To educate my own perspective about the angst of the adults that were influential in my childhood, I dove into the dominant male military world of 1950s and forward. As I progressed, it softened the edges of my own painful and happy nostalgic memories. As in the book, I started out dissecting my late step-father’s military records and mementos, which allowed me to ask relatively informed questions to the many Vets, including my own Tin-Can sailor father. Their uniforms were retired, but often a baseball cap with a military logo alerted me to their presence. The Goose Creek Tin-Can Sailor Chapter graciously endured my prodding. I would meet shipmates of my dad’s and even developed deep friendships with a few. I explored the decks of the USS Laffey at Patriots Point. The familiar smell of diesel mixed with grey paint sent my nostalgia into overdrive. I spent time in Jacksonville Beach, Florida to launch myself into the mind of a grade school girl navigating her way as a military dependent in the 1960s.
            I treasure the many glory day chats that revived the boyish spirits over a beer at ship reunions or an American Legion hall. The vulnerable confessions of the trials and tribulations of raising families under the strain of the Cold War helped me flesh out the tender undercarriages of these masculine souls. At the announcement of “free wine for all the blondes at the bar” at a local Olive Garden, I met and became part of the Thursday lunch gang of Jack Connerty. He became so dear to the heart of my story, I promoted him to Chief in my book. His best friend, Richard Santa Stanley, amused me and welcomed me with that first free glass of wine. (Lynn Stanley, you’re a saint!) Thank you also to Jerry and Marla Wickerham, Dwight Cargile of American Legion Post 147; John Long, who shared the photos of the recovery of Gemini VIII from the deck of the USS Leonard F. Mason (see next page); and especially to my father, Ret. LCDR Eugene Hall; and late step-father, Command Master Chief Robert Hardegree. But, as pointed out in the story, behind all these men were wives and children. The ones who waited and kept the family together during a husband’s absence. There has to be a thank you to my mother, Jeanette Hardegree and my three sisters because without the experience of being a real ‘package deal,’ my story would lack a realistic flare. My mentor and writing coach, Shari Stauch, con-ceived the basic idea of this story and kept me motivated to never abandon ship. Her confidence in Gatekeeper Press has finally laid the keel of my cover and launched the pages of the journey of the Higgins family. Of course, my husband, Steve Varn, gave me much needed R&R and escape with my camera underwater when the words would freeze. I hope this book inspires readers to look into the amazing stories of their families and ancestors. I have a new appreciation of the messiness of life, but how some-thing as simple as birth order can be a key to untangling it. For me, the result has been profound, and I’ve dis-covered, as I hope you will, that the definition of family isn’t limited to blood but to those whose hearts are so big, they prepare us to become the watchstanders at the helms of our own lives. Thank you to generations of those who reported for duty, and to the families that served with them. I salute you…

[Book Tour]: Between the Cracks by Carmela Cattuti

 

Between the Cracks papperbackcover

 

One woman’s journey from Sicily to America

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: HenschelHAUS Publishing

 

Join Angela Lanza as she  the experiences the tumultuous world of early 20th century Sicily and New York. Orphaned by the earthquake and powerful eruption of Mt. Etna in 1908, Angela is raised in the strict confines of an Italian convent. Through various twists of fate, she is married to a young Italian man whom she barely knows , then together with her spouse, immigrates to the U.S.

 

 

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About the author: 

 

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Carmela Cattuti started her writing career as a writer for the Somerville News in Boston, MA. She is a writer, painter, and yoga instructor in Boston. After she finished her graduate work in English at Boston College, she began to write creatively. As fate would have it, she felt compelled to write her great aunt’s story. Between the Cracks and The Ascent have gone through several incarnations and will become a trilogy.

 

 

Contact Links

Website: www.ccattuticreative.com/carmela-cattuti-books

Facebook: www.facebook.com/carmelacattuticreative

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ccattuti

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18388553-between-the-cracks?from_search=true&qid=pUEZkURrJd&rank=1

Instagram: www.instagram.com/carmelacattuticreative 

 

Purchase Links

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Giveaway

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Excerpt 

 

A cross from Italy’s mainland sat the city of Messina like an indomitable fortress. Proud of its solid presence, Messina was the travelers’ first encounter with the island of Sicily. The earthy colors of the buildings and landscape signaled to the visitor or returning Sicilian that Messina and its people belonged to the island, not to any outside political force or cultural tradition. The clang of the donkey-drawn carts and the voices calling out to customers to buy wares in the market added to the music of the city’s sounds. Visitors marveled out loud at the cathedrals and ancient art work throughout the city, but the locals walked and spoke softly, especially near the narrow slits between the buildings.

Visitors delighted in the snake-like movement of the streets. The streets seemed to lead directly to a famous church or street market but then would slowly veer off in a different direction. They seemed to be designed to intentionally confuse. The city offered no help in arriving at a specific destination. Ancient buildings were so close together that air barely squeezed through. Residents believed that between the buildings old mysteries sat, holding the true essence of Messina. Whenever one of the townspeople
walked close to the openings, there seemed to be a whisper, not a sound you could hear with your physical ears but heard in your mind. The whisper seemed to convey a yearning that had been imprisoned for hundreds of years. When this happened, people scurried past, heads down, attempting to get away from the whispers in their heads.

Angela ran down the hot cobblestone street and fell, scrambled to her feet and ran, then fell again. She threw herself on the street and screamed a long scream that echoed off the ruins of the ancient churches. A timeless scream that would always and forever be heard. Her city, Messina, was a massive graveyard. She searched for her family—her mother, sister and brother. She yelled their names into the air, into demolished houses. She screamed at bodies crushed or run through by fallen beams. Other bodies were caught between the open earth and the street. They were the souls in hell that she had seen in paintings, forever in agony, never at peace.