Wednesday, December 7, 2016

PUYB Features Dowsing and Ley Lines by Gerald Chatfield



 

Inside the Book:


Title: Dowing and Ley Lines 
Author: Gerald Chatfield 
Publisher: iUniverse 
Genre: Reference
  Format: Ebook

This book contains information on dowsing for beginners and advanced alike. It provides information on how to find and follow more than five hundred ley marks across the south of the British Isles. It also contains unique insight on how shadow ley lines are connected to time as we measure it in minutes and hours. Also answers as to why the legendary figure of the Long Man of Wilmington is positioned where he is on the South Downs. There is also information on both Woodhenge and Stonehenge.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Featured Colorado Dream Book Blst!



We're happy to host Charlene Whitman's COLORADO DREAM book blast today!  Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!


Title: COLORADO DREAM
Author: Charlene Whitman
Publisher: Ubiquitous Press
Pages: 450
Genre: Sweet Historical Western Romance

Yearning to become a concert musician, a young woman from New York travels to Colorado to purchase a violin, but when she meets a wild, untamable cowboy, her dream is threatened and her heart torn ...
In New York in 1877, Angela Bellini longs to become a concert violinist and get away from her abusive father. When her dream takes her to Greeley, Colorado, to purchase a violin from a master instrument maker, she learns she must wait three weeks until her violin is ready before she can head home.
Angela is determined not to let anything or anyone waylay her dream, but when she meets rough-and-tumble cowboy Brett Hendricks, her heart is torn. He is her opposite in every way—uncouth, cocky, and reckless. But she is hopelessly drawn to him, like a moth to flame.
Brett Hendricks is on the run—not just from an angry rancher who is tracking him down for shooting his son but from a dark and troubled past plaguing him with guilt and shame. A wild, untamable cowboy, Brett can break any horse with a soft touch and soothing word, but nothing in the world can bring him peace. He fears he will never stop running, never see his dreams of ranching realized.
But then, one evening, he hears sweet violin music that seeps deep into his soul--music that floods him with peace. He falls hard for Angela but knows she plans to leave Colorado. All his attempts to win her heart fail disastrously, and though he buries himself in the cattle roundup, when he helps thwart a rustling outfit, his enemies multiply.
Somehow he must find a way to gain Angela's heart and trust. And somehow Angela must break past her distrust of men to discover the love awaiting her with open arms.
Pick up your copy at:

Amazon



Book Excerpt:
Chapter 1

September 9, 1877
New York City, New York

The slap on Angela Bellini’s cheek burned, but not as fiercely as the hurt in her heart. The pain and disappointment smoldering there sizzled like hot embers, threatening to reduce her to a pile of ash. She glared at her father’s back as he stomped out of the room.
Why couldn’t her papá understand? She would not marry Pietro, no matter how wealthy his family was, no matter how many years her papá and his had planned such an arrangement. “It is our way, Angela,” he had told her again, his face hard and eyes dark and menacing, leaving no room for debate. “And you will marry him. You are twenty years of age—you are lucky he is still willing. You’ve made him wait long enough.”
When she forced her objections past the rock lodged in her aching throat, she knew what would follow. What always followed. Her papá’s rage erupted in a torrent of Italian curses that ended with a slap that knocked her nearly senseless against the foyer wall before he stormed out the apartment.
As she slid down in a heap by the front door, she had caught a glimpse of her mamá in the kitchen, her back turned to her in unspoken submission. Angela huffed. I will never marry and become like you, Mamá—squashed under the thumb of some man who wants only subservience and a crowded apartment full of squalling babies.
 She swallowed back tears. She would not cry—not today. Today she would take the first steps—real steps—toward her dream. And no one, not even the powerful and prominent Giusepe Bellini could stop her.
Their tiny stuffy apartment rumbled—as it always did six times a day and twice each night—from the Third Avenue El Train fifty feet away. The noise of the wheels clacking and the platform rattling mingled with the loud voices of her downstairs neighbors arguing—Mr. Paolino’s tenor to his wife’s shrill soprano. Outside her window, carriages clattered on cobblestones in sharp staccato, and shoppers and merchants carried on in boisterous conversation, sounding no more pacifying than an orchestra tuning their instruments.
On most days Angela could drown out the suffocating symphony of Mulberry Bend by rehearsing violin caprices in her head, imagining her fingers flying over the fingerboard, her right hand bowing the strings, eliciting the sweet and sonorous timbre of her instrument.
But on this stifling, humid September afternoon, the many pieces she’d memorized—no, absorbed into her very soul, as if food that nourished her—flitted away, out of reach, as she pulled down the heavy carpetbag from the hall closet—a bag that she’d found months ago stuffed behind a stack of wool blankets.
She stopped and listened. Her mama was humming in the back room as she folded laundry. Her two younger siblings were off playing with neighborhood children—in the street, no doubt, as the sweltering heat was worse indoors.
Angela’s hands shook as she dabbed her perspiring forehead and neck with a handkerchief and went through her mental list of all she would need on her trip. Not much—she’d only be gone ten, perhaps, twelve days, if all went as planned. She pushed from her thoughts her papá’s impending fury at her insolence and the resulting punishments that would await her upon her return. But she had made her decision, and there was no turning back.
Hurry, she told herself. Her papá had gone downstairs to the corner market, and while he often spent an hour or more on Sunday afternoons smoking cigars with the men of the neighborhood, discussing the politics of her close-knit Italian community and their various business ventures—and arranging their daughters’ marriages, she thought bitterly—he could return at any time.
In her bedroom, she gathered the neat stack of clothes she had put in her bottom dresser drawer, then stuffed them into the traveling bag along with her few womanly items, her prayer book, some sheets of music, and a spare pair of shoes. She checked her reticule and found the roll of bills—the money she’d earned over the last two years from babysitting and teaching music lessons through Signore Bianchi’s instrument shop on Second Avenue. She hoped it would be enough for the quality of violin she planned to buy.
Mr. Fisk hadn’t answered her inquiry regarding pricing in his letter. He merely assured her he would provide her with an exceptional instrument and that they would work out the financial details once she arrived in Greeley, Colorado.
Would her meager savings be enough? It had to be, for she couldn’t return to New York and face the audition committee without a proper instrument.
The director’s words still stung. “You’re a talented musician, Miss Bellini. But you bring shame to your craft by playing on such an inferior violin. Come back when you have an appropriate instrument.” The three committee members had politely frowned when she flustered an apology and hurried to the exit of the symphony hall, pressing down her humiliation and frustration as tears welled in her eyes.
Her papá could well afford to buy her a violin of exceptional quality, and every year at Christmas she begged him to indulge her love of playing with the purchase of a new one, but he only laughed in cool disdain and waved her away. “Give up your foolish dreams, Angela. Your place is in the home, with a husband and children. Not on the stage.” Her papá regarded music appropriate only at holidays and festivals and family gatherings, and only traditional song and instrumentation. He didn’t—couldn’t—understand this dream she nursed. The dream to play in the New York Philharmonic, to play on stage before an audience, to be a part of the creation of ethereal music that filled a great performance hall and moved listeners to tears.
To make matters worse, her older brother, Bartolomeo, sided with their papá, constantly nagging her to “get married already and stop being a burden on the family.” Although he was but two years older, he and Dora had three children. And Dora—and most of Angela’s other girlfriends from her school days, who were also married—gave her constant looks of pity, as if Angela was missing out on life’s greatest joy. But they just didn’t understand.
She had to fan the tiny spark of her dream to keep it alive, to prevent it from being snuffed out by her papá’s stern expectations and society’s demands. And it had nearly been extinguished a month ago, upon her papá’s brash public announcement of her engagement to Pietro—an arrogant youngest son of a successful wine merchant who had no love for music—none whatsoever. She harbored no hope that he would ever understand her passionate need to play the violin, and no doubt he’d forbid her pursuit of her dream.
And then she’d read an article in the Times about one George Fisk, a master violin maker in a newly founded town in the West—a place called Greeley. On a whim she’d written him. Why? She didn’t know. She could purchase a violin in Manhattan—one of sufficient quality. But there was something about the description of this man, Fisk. The way he spoke about the instruments he made. The care and time and love he put into each one. He built his instruments with a passion and love for beauty and music that resonated with her. For, she wanted more than a good violin. She wanted one that spoke to her soul, one made just for her. George Fisk promised he could provide just that. But she had to travel halfway across the continent. Was she willing? he’d asked her.
Yes, she wrote him. Yes, more than willing. Although, she’d never traveled outside of the city, and the thought of venturing into wild country, alone, made her stomach twist. But Fisk had told her not to worry. He would see to her accommodations and show her around his “wonderful little Western town.” And she had to admit—she was ready for an adventure.
She looked around her cramped tiny bedroom situated in a crowded apartment in a busy, noisy city. I’m more than ready for peace and quiet, and to get away from Papá’s mean spirit and violent temper.
What must it be like to stand under a wide-open sky spattered with stars, with no neighbors quarreling or trains rattling or horses’ hooves clacking on stones? Her heart yearned for such open space, for such silence. Silence that longed to be filled with beautiful music. She imagined nature itself performing a symphony of birdsong and coyote howls and water cascading over rocks. Those were some of the images her mind drifted to as she played, and she longed to merge her own musical voice to that of creation, if even just for a day or two.




About the Author


The author of "heart-thumping" Western romance, Charlene Whitman spent many years living on Colorado's Front Range. She grew up riding and raising horses, and loves to read, write, and hike the mountains. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins as an English major. She has two daughters and is married to George "Dix" Whitman, her love of thirty years. 

The Front Range series of sweet historical Western romance novels (set in 1876) includes Colorado Promise, set in Greeley, Colorado; Colorado Hope, set in Fort Collins; Wild Secret, Wild Longing, which takes readers up into the Rockies, and Colorado Dream (release date 11/15/16) and Wild Horses, Wild Hearts (release date 1/1/17).

Join Charlene's mailing list to get free books, news, and sneak previews of upcoming books and covers:
https://cslakin.leadpages.co/charlene-whitman-list-opt-in/.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | JOIN CHARLENE’S MAILING LIST



http://www.pumpupyourbook.com

Monday, December 5, 2016

Interview with Chef Wolgang Hanau, author of My Travel Adventures and Secret Recipes





Inside the Book:

Title: My Travel Adventures and Secret Recipes
Author: Chef Wolfgang Hanau
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Cooking
Format: Ebook/Paperback
Chef Wolfgang Hanau, born and educated in Eastern Europe, learned to love good cooking from an early age, so it was only natural that he’d go on to become a world-renowned chef.
What isn’t so natural, however, is his willingness to share the secret recipes he’s learned over a decades-long career at some of the world’s most exclusive restaurants, luxury hotels, and resorts.
In this memoir/recipe book, he revels in dishes with a French flair, Bavarian specialties from Munich’s Oktoberfest, Switzerland’s renowned international cuisine, and dishes from the many great places he’s practiced his craft.
You’ll laugh and smile as he enjoys camelback rides in the Sahara desert, cruises on luxury ocean liners, and meets celebrities at culinary destinations that offer sun, fun, and escapes from the ordinary.
Along the way, he shares recipes that will impress your relatives and friends, including German Warm Potato Salad, the Allenstein BBQ Recipe, Bearnaise Sauce, Rainforest Acai Berry Cookies, Amstel Light Portobello Gorgonzola Burger, Golden Apple Cheddar Pancakes, Apple Jam-Filled Cookies, and Apricot-Glazed Mushrooms over Mixed Baby Greens.
There’s an exciting story and a tasty dish for everyone in this book of secret recipes and travel adventures.

Meet the Author:
Chef Wolfgang Hanau, a native of Bavaria, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute in Munich. He has worked in Switzerland, Paris, and London and has practiced his craft at many popular hotels and resorts. He lives with his wife, Diana, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Tour Schedule

Monday, December 5 – Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book
Tuesday, December 6 – Interviewed at Harmonious Publicity
Wednesday, December 7 – Guest blogging at My Bookish Pleasures
Thursday, December 8 – Interviewed at Book Marketing Buzz
Friday, December 9 – Guest blogging at She Writes
________
Monday, December 12 – Interviewed at Carpe Librum
Wednesday, December 14 – Interviewed at Write and Take Flight
Friday, December 16 – Interviewed at Read Between the Ink
________
Tuesday, December 20 – Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Wednesday, December 21 – Guest blogging at Niume
Friday, December 23 – Guest blogging at The Revolving Bookshelf
________
Monday, December 26 – Interviewed at As the Pages Turn
Tuesday, December 27 – Guest blogging at The Dark Phantom
________
Monday, January 2 – Guest blogging at A Taste of My Mind
Wednesday, January 4 – Interviewed at I’m Shelf-ish
Thursday, January 5 – Interviewed at The Zen Reader
Friday, January 6 – Guest blogging at Voodoo Princess
________
Tuesday, January 10 – Interviewed at From Paperback to Leatherbound
Wednesday, January 11 – Guest blogging at The Literary Nook
Thursday, January 12 – Guest blogging at Confessions of an Eccentric Bookaholic
Friday, January 13 – Interviewed at The Review From Here
________
Monday, January 16 – Guest blogging at PUYB Virtual Book Club
Wednesday, January 18 – Interviewed at Straight From the Author’s Mouth
Thursday, January 19 – Guest blogging at Lover of Literature
Friday, January 20 – Guest blogging at Fiction to Fruition
________
Monday, January 23 – Interviewed at A Title Wave
Wednesday, January 25 – Guest blogging at Booklover Sue
Thursday, January 26 – Interviewed at The Writer’s Life
Friday, January 27 – Guest blogging at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews

Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Club Chats with Mike Hartner, author of 'I, Angus'


Mike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He’s traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.

Mike’s latest book is I, Angus (The Eternity Series Book 4).
For More Information
About the Book:
During a time of civil strife and purging the North has lost
more men to Wars then it ever did to Nature.

Angus has grown up learning that his life is better off with only him and a family. But is that really in the Grand Plan.

The North needs someone to build community.

But first, Angus needs to be forged... beaten, shaped, bolded and trained.

Watch as Angus hits both lows and highs across the lands of England, Scotland and France, before meeting a challenge of new land.

BUYING LINKS:


Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

Very little.  A bit of research into parts of Scotland; a bit of research into major historical events of the time.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub? 

Self- pub.  The rest of The Eternity Seris is also self-pubbed, and I didn’t see any reason to change that.

If self-published, did you hire someone to format the ebook version for you or did you do it yourself?  Can you tell us what that was like? 

Yes.  I always hire someone to format the ebook version.  Frankly, the ebook formatting is quite a different beast than the paperback formatting.

If self-published, how did you determine the price? 

I determined the price of the e-book version by considering a number of factors including the price ‘sweet-spot’ on Amazon.. which, according to studies is 2.99-3.99

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?   

I, Angus  published in June.   This allowed it to be published BEFORE the July Long weekend. (Canada: July 1, US July 4). It also allowed plenty of time for working with Lightning Source / Ingram to get it into book shelves before the Christmas season.

How did you choose your cover? 

My cover was professionally produced by a great artist: Kriss Morton.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went? 

I write fully, then revise.  I don’t want to start revising until I have a good luck at the full picture.

Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book?  If so, what’s the link? 

I have considered it, and I haven’t done it yet. I have video trailers for both I, Walter and I, James but neither has been shown to make a difference in the sales

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book? 

I will happily give copies of any book for reviews, as long as they’re honest reviews.  I do give copies of Book One: I, Walter as enticements to those who are interested in reading The Eternity Series.  I have given over 20k copies of I, Walter over the past three years.  But, very few of them have resulted in reviews or members of my email list.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released? 

Write, edit, revise.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released? 

Marketing on the one released; writing on the next one; and setting up signings to learn about the public and people who read your books.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out? 

 I have a mailing list that I send messages to about upcoming events. The Eterntiy Series has its own FB site, as well as its own web site. And I have asked my street team to help with I, Angus

Do you have a long term plan with your book? 

Long term, I keep marketing for The Eternity Series. And new copy sells back-copy.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book? 

As my friend Rachel Thompson says, “Write what you want!”  Do it with passion, and keep writing.





PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Malia Zaidi, author of 'A Darker Shore'



Malia Zaidi is the author of A POISONOUS JOURNEY. She attended the University of Pittsburgh, and studied at English at Oxford University. Having grown up in Germany, she currently lives in Washington DC, though through her love of reading, she resides, vicariously in countries throughout the world. A POISONOUS JOURNEY is her first book in the Lady Evelyn mysteries series. The sequel, A DARKER SHORE, is her latest novel.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS


About the Book:

1926: A year has passed since the events of "A Poisonous Journey" and Lady Evelyn has made a home for herself in Greece, living with her cousin, Briony, her husband, Jeffrey and Daniel Harper.
Disturbing this island idyll is a letter, which arrives from France with troubling information about the Daniel’s long-believed-dead brother, Henry. A new journey awaits! With the shadows of the Great War reaching out, Lady Evelyn and Daniel voyage to Amiens in Northern France with the aim of discovering the truth behind the ominous letter. Upon their arrival, they are met not with clarity but rather with crime. Murder, to be precise. Is it linked to their presence in France, or even worse, to Henry himself?  Evelyn and Daniel must confront their history as they try to make sense of the present before the killer can strike again, and the secrets of the past are lost forever.

PURCHASE AT:

Amazon


Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

I always read a lot about the time and setting for my planned new novel. In the case of “A Darker Shore” that time was 1926 and the setting Amiens, France. I also researched the role this part of the country played during the First World War, which ended less than a decade earlier, and left a considerable imprint on the minds and lives of the characters involved in this book.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

I self-published with Bookbaby, which has given me a lot of control and the rights to my work.

If self-published, did you hire someone to format the ebook version for you or did you do it yourself?  Can you tell us what that was like?

Bookbaby helped with format the book both as an ebook and print. I also worked with their designers to create a cover that I love. There were certain challenges involved, because I had an idea in my mind and wanted the book to fit the cover of the first in the series, “A Poisonous Journey”. The people at Bookbaby were always very responsive, though, which made working together much easier and ultimately something I intend to do again.

How did you choose your cover?

I wanted the cover to work well with the cover of the first book in the series, “A Poisonous Journey”, as well as having the feel of a vintage travel poster. The designers at Bookbaby worked well with me and truly considered my input, which I greatly appreciated.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

I always write a first draft and then go back and revise. It is edited, and then I go over it again several times to tweak things, amend them or rewrite.

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

I have hosted giveaways for print books and have given ebook copies away as well. I find this increases readers’ interest and as a big reader myself, I love to win a book and review it when I do, so I know it can serve to give a boost.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

Edit, engage with readers even before the book is published to generate interest and give away pre-release copies for unbiased review.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

Continue engaging with readers, be active on platforms like Goodreads and get to work on the next one!

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out? 

I have a web site and Facebook page where readers can find information about the books, as well as a blog tour to garner interest. I also try to correspond with book bloggers I know and my Goodreads friends, who have expressed interest in the book.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

“A Darker Shore” is a story about friendship, family, the past and present, love and hatred, which I hope will entertain fans of “A Poisonous Journey” and readers of historical mysteries as a genre. I have tried to create a character in Evelyn who was dealt a difficult card in her past, but has not lost her energy for life and her desire to learn and experience what it has to offer (which occasionally means solving the odd murder or two). I hope you enjoy her latest adventure!






Wednesday, November 30, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Presents How To Eat Your ABC'S Book Blast!



We're happy to host Theresa A. McKeown's HOW TO EAT YOUR ABC'S Book Blast today! Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!


Title: HOW TO EAT YOUR ABC’S
Author: Theresa A. McKeown
Publisher: The ABC’s of Everything, LLC
Pages: 30
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

How to Eat your ABC’s” is a cleverly written and illustrated book, which encourages children to get excited about healthy eating, while also developing a genuine love for reading.  Each letter of the alphabet is represented by a fresh fruit or vegetable and is narrated by BuzzBee, (a friendly honeybee who adores children). Written entirely in rhyme with a melodic tone, it is meant to be read aloud.  Not only will it inspire kids to fall in love with fresh healthy food, but it will also build their vocabulary and phonemic awareness.  “How to Eat Your ABC’s” will instill a healthy, happy, conscious way of looking at life from a young age.

We invite children and parents alike to follow BuzzBee and his friends as they show everyone how to eat their way through the alphabet.

Amazon


Book Excerpt:



About the Author


Theresa McKeown spent over two decades in the entertainment arena before embracing her true passion of writing children’s books. After producing hundreds of hours of television for a host of cable and network outlets, Theresa is now on the path of what she considers her highest calling.
Theresa and her sisters have created “The ABC’s of Everything, LLC”, a family endeavor solely focused on publishing several series of children’s books, digital content, and educational curriculums.  All will be written and produced with an awareness of the true possibilities that children of the 21st century can realize.  

 As an author, Theresa is dedicated to estimating rather than underestimating the wisdom of children. Her philosophy is that kids are fully adept at understanding nuance and meaning and it’s not necessary to talk down to them.  She is dedicated to creating a new paradigm in the children's book world by introducing work that fully embraces the insightfulness, perception and unlimited intellectual potential of today’s youth.

Her books are meant to plant the seeds of education and awareness early in a child’s development, knowing full well that children will ultimately blossom into the best versions of who they are meant to be.

In her role as producer, Theresa traveled worldwide, filming from locations as diverse as the White House, NORAD, the Pentagon, FBI headquarters, maximum-security prisons and from the top of the World Trade Center.  Along the way she "tail-hooked" onto an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, yachted through South America with jet setters and chased bad guys with the LAPD in a helicopter.

Yet, with a background like this, building a community to celebrate children promises to be the most exciting adventure of all

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK

 

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Darker Shore by Malia Zaidi



Title: A Darker Shore
Author: Malia Zaidi
Publisher: Bookbaby
Pages: 400
Genre: Historical Mystery

1926: A year has passed since the events of "A Poisonous Journey" and Lady Evelyn has made a home for herself in Greece, living with her cousin, Briony, her husband, Jeffrey and Daniel Harper. Disturbing this island idyll is a letter, which arrives from France with troubling information about the Daniel’s long-believed-dead brother, Henry. A new journey awaits! With the shadows of the Great War reaching out, Lady Evelyn and Daniel voyage to Amiens in Northern France with the aim of discovering the truth behind the ominous letter. Upon their arrival, they are met not with clarity but rather with crime. Murder, to be precise. Is it linked to their presence in France, or even worse, to Henry himself?  Evelyn and Daniel must confront their history as they try to make sense of the present before the killer can strike again, and the secrets of the past are lost forever.

PURCHASE AT:

Amazon


Book Excerpt:
Prologue
Near Pozières, France 1917

            We came here to die.
            My heart beats the rhythm of the shell blast. Boom. Boom. Boom. Ready to burst, ready to break. Boom. Boom. Boom.
            "Get down!"
            An explosion of earth, light, and fire twenty feet beyond our trench.
            "Close one that?" McCragh bellows into my ear.
            I only manage a nod. Too many sounds echoing through my body, the steady pulsing of my heart, the tinny ringing in my ears. But silence can be just as bad I have learned. Silence can be death. My discovery weighs heavy on my mind. What will I do? Do I have a choice?
            "What are the orders?" asks a young man, whose name I cannot remember, standing at my other side, leaning heavily against the dirt wall of our trench, his feet squelching thickly in the mud underfoot.
            "Awaiting orders," says McCragh with a sneer. "Won't do us much good, waiting 'ere much longer, better get out, better to be moving."
            The nameless young man shies away from us, from the bitter words of the burly Scot
            Before I can respond, another man, the Runner, comes catapulting into the ditch. I help him right himself. His face is smeared with dirt and dust, but this mask cannot conceal his tender age. I shudder. We will all die here today.
            "Orders are to stay. Enemy" he gasps for air, "enemy is showing signs of retreat."
            "Retreat?" McCragh frowns. "Bleedin' cowards!"
            "Are you certain?" I ask, feeling the quiver in my voice.
            "Yessir, orders from above. Told us to wait it out."
            "Right, well done, son," I say, though the boy could be my brother. "Go on, then. Best make the rounds." I try to sound calm, reassuring, to keep my voice steady, while I know I fail and only hope my fear is disguised by the screams and blasts from above.
            "Yessir." He takes a breath and sets off at a brisk trot, as fast as the bodies crowded into this tight space will allow.
            "Another day to live in hell, then. Lovely." Lewis, a Cornish fellow with a missing left ear comments wryly as he materializes at our side.
            "Sounds about right." McCragh rolls his eyes, but makes an involuntary sign of the cross nonetheless.
            "Four months they told us," Rawlins, another man with a raspy voice adds, sticking a cigarette between his thin, flaking lips. "'Four months, lads, serve King and Country', eh? Bleedin' liars."
            "Watch what you're saying, or I'll 'ave you for treason!" McCragh winks and rubs his beard.
           
Time passes slowly. The sky goes from gray to purple to black tinged orange, and still the thrumming of the guns, the intermittent blasts, grow only slightly fainter, move only slightly farther away. We crouch together in the black, damp, misery of our trench, our only light is the flicker of orange at the end of a cigarette.
            "What will you do when this is all over?" comes the whispered voice of a young nameless soldier, who has drifted to my side.
            "If I'm not—" I start.
            "If yer not dead," chimes in McCragh. "If we get out of this pile o' shite in one bit, you mean, laddie?"
"Stop pissing about, McCragh," Rawlins says sharply. It is an unspoken rule not to mention the very real likelihood of us never seeing the end of this war.
            "Oh, right," comes McCragh's chastised reply. "I fer one will be gettin' back me ol' missus. Seein' the kids."
            "How many have you got, then?" Lewis asks, keen for any distraction from the agony of numb legs, and the even worse terror raging above us.
            "Two. Two little girls. Bessie and Mary. And I thank the Lord fer that. I'll never be sendin' them off to be blown to bits. I won't let them out of my sight again. Future husbands beware."
            We chuckle, though I do not doubt the sincerity of his statement. Future husbands beware indeed!
            "And you? How about you, son?" Lewis asks.
            "Just go home," I say. "See my mother, father. See my brothers."
            "How many?"
            "Two. One" I swallow, a sudden tightness in my throat, "one is here, somewhere . . ." I let the word float into the night, knowing the others understand. Silence descends upon our group, and soon I hear the faint sound of snoring. Can it be? Is one of them actually sleeping while the sky is falling down on us?

After some moments, I sense a sudden motion to my right. I turn my head, though I cannot see my hand before my eyes.
            "Hello?" I whisper, but before I can hear an answer, a sharp stab of pain swells in my chest. I gasp, my hand flying up, meeting . . . meeting wetness. Wetness? Sticky . . .
            I can't breathe; I grapple around, touching the soft, earthen wall, the rough fabric of a uniform.
            "I-I . . ." I swallow hard, pain explodes inside me, louder, more forceful than the shells above. My mouth feels dry, I try retching, but nothing comes. I am on the ground. "Help." I croak.
            I feel a hand on my shoulder. Hear voices, raised in concern. All I see is blackness and stars.
            We came here to die.