Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Redeeming Power Of Brain Surgery by Paul Flower

The Redeeeming Power of Brain Surgery

TitleThe Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery: A Suspense Novel 
Author: Paul Flower
Publisher: Scribe Publishing Company
Publication Date: June 1, 2013
Pages: 250
ISBN: 978-0985956271
Genre: Susepense
Format: Paperback, eBook (.mobi / Kindle), PDF

Book Description:

Jesse Tieter, M.D. has carefully constructed the ideal life. But lately, neither his Chicago-based neurology practice nor his wife and son are enough to suppress the memories that have haunted him since he was a little boy. He can't stop thinking about that summer day in 1967 when his father died.

So Jesse is heading back. Back to the town and the place where a long-repressed horror occurred. Back to make sure his twin keeps the family's secret buried.

But what will he uncover along the way?

Book Excerpt:

His son’s hand felt like a lie. Lately, to him, everything felt this way. The look of sadness on his wife’s face, the burn of a drink in his throat, the whine of a saw in the O.R.; nothing seemed true. Nothing was real anymore. He felt out of balance, too. Even now, the school building, the flag slapping against the heavy fall sky¬¬—everything was tipping away from him. It was as though he’d gotten up that morning and screwed on his head carelessly, as though he hadn’t threaded it good and tight. While shaving, he’d cut himself, a discrete, semi-intentional knick just under the curve of his chin. He’d stood there like an idiot, eyes feeding the message “blood” to his brain, nerve endings responding with “pain” and the logic center unable to formulate a response.

“Dad? Daddy?”

“Uh? Wha’?”

“Pick up the pace. Chop chop. Move out.”

Now, as he snaked through the crush of other parents and children, he had to look down to convince himself the boy was there, attached to the hand, flesh and bone. The red hair, “his mother’s hair” everyone called it, was sliced by a crisp white part; his head bounced in beat with his sneakered feet. The child was so painfully real he couldn’t be a lie.

It amazed him that his son looked so much like his wife, especially the tiny mouth, the way it was set in a crooked, determined line. He was a kid who liked to have fun, but he could be fierce. Today, the challenge of a new school year, of third grade, had brought out the determined streak. This was good. They would need that streak, he and his mother would.

“Whoa.”  The tiny hand now was a road sign, white-pink flesh facing him, commanding him. Far enough. He obeyed. Squatting, arms out for the anticipated embrace, he suddenly wanted to tell everything. Tears swam. His throat thickened. The earth tilted and threatened to send him skittering over its edge. There was the slightest of hugs, the brush of lips on his cheek then the boy was off, skipping toward the steps as though third grade challenged nothing, caused no fear, as though the world was in perfect balance.

He walked back to his Lincoln Navigator with the exaggerated care of a drunk who didn’t want anyone to know his condition. He got behind the wheel and suddenly was no longer in his 50s; he felt 16 and too small, too skinny and insignificant to handle the giant SUV.

He nosed the vehicle toward home, alternately trembling and gripping the wheel as he merged with the morning traffic. The plan struck him now as odd and silly, the challenges too great. His hands, already red and scaly, itched fiercely. Get a grip, he told himself. Get a grip.

His tired mind—when was the last time he’d really slept well?—jumped from one stone of thought to another. Was everything covered at work? The bills—had he paid them all? Did his wife suspect anything? Yes. No. Absolutely. Of course not. Relax. Relax. He left the expressway at the exit that took him past their church and wondered if the church, too, was a lie. What of the wedding there so many years ago?

Through a stoplight and past a Dunkin’ Donuts, his gaze floated around a corner. A flash of inspiration—hit the gas. Let the tires slide and the back-end arc around. Let physics have its way until the big vehicle broke free from the grip of gravity and danced head over end, coming to a stop with him bleeding and mercifully, gratefully dead inside.

No. He had something to do. Had he figured the angles right? Gotten the plan tight enough?

A horn jabbed through his reverie. He had drifted into the turn lane of the five-lane street. He jerked the wheel and cut across traffic into the right lane. Tires screeched, horns screamed. A black Toyota streaked past on his left, the driver’s fist, middle finger erect, thrust out the window.

Rage, sharp and bitter, bubbled in his throat. He hesitated, then jammed his foot on the accelerator, cut the wheel hard, and sent the Navigator careening into the left lane.

A staccato barrage of profanity pounded the inside of his skull. He bit his tongue to keep the words in. His heart hammered and a familiar, dizzying pressure filled his ears. The SUV roared ahead, past one car, past a semi then another car, quickly closing the gap on the speeding Toyota. He couldn’t see the car’s driver but he could imagine him, some stupid, simple-minded schmuck, eyes locked on the rear-view mirror as the lumbering Lincoln grew larger, larger, larger. The instant before he would slam into the smaller vehicle, he jabbed his brake and turned again to the left. There was a squeal of tires and more horns bleating behind him; the semi rig’s air horn bellowed angrily past. Ramrod straight, eyes fixed ahead on the now-slow-moving car disappearing tentatively around a curve, he brought the Navigator to a shuddering stop in the center lane. He tensed and waited for the resounding WHUMP of a crash from behind. None came. Face flushed and eyes gleaming, suddenly rejuvenated, he accelerated quickly then eased the Navigator back into the flow of traffic—no looking back.

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Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

About The Author

Paul Flower

Paul Flower is an author, advertising copywriter/creative director and a journalist.

He has written and produced award-winning advertising for print, radio, television, outdoor, the Web––really, just about every medium––for business-to-consumer and business-to-business accounts.

His news features have appeared in regional and national magazines. His first novel, “The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery,” was published in June 2013 by Scribe Publishing. Visit Paul’s website at paulflower.net.  

Connect with Paul:

Author Website: paulflower.net 
Author Page / Publisher Website: http://scribe-publishing.com/brain/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paulflower.writer 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/flowerpaul Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7137509.Paul_Flower  


The Redeeming Power of Brain Surgery

Monday, April 27, 2015

Excerpt from Soldier of Rome Rebellion in Judea by James Mace

Soldier of Rome Book Banner

Soldier of Rome Rebellion in JudeaTitle: Soldier of Rome: Rebellion in Judea
Author: James Mace
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: 430
Genre: Historical
Format: Kindle/Paperback

 In the year 66 A.D. the Roman province of Judea exploded in rebellion. Far from being a revolution of unified peoples, the various Jewish factions of Sadducees, Zealots, Sicarii, and Edomites are in a state of civil war; as anxious to spill the blood of each other as they are to fight the Romans. The Judeans find hope when the Romans commit a serious tactical blunder and allow their forces to be ambushed and nearly destroyed in the mountain pass of Beth Horon. Following the disaster, Emperor Nero recalls to active service Flavius Vespasian, the legendary general who had been instrumental in the conquest of Britannia twenty-three years before. In the northern region of Galilee, a young Judean commander named Josephus ben Matthias readies his forces to face the coming onslaught. A social and political moderate, he fears the extremely violent Zealot fanatics, who threaten to overthrow the newly-established government in Jerusalem, as much as he does the Romans. Soon Vespasian, a tactical and strategic genius who had never been defeated in battle, unleashes his huge army upon Galilee. His orders are to crush the rebellion and exact the harshest of punishments upon those who would violate the Peace of Rome. Lacking the manpower and resources to face the legions in open battle, Josephus knows he will need plenty of cunning, ingenuity, and, perhaps, even the intervention of God Himself, lest the once proud Kingdoms of Judah and Israel should become a kingdom of the damned.

For More Information

  • Soldier of Rome: Rebellion in Judea is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads
Chapter XXIII: Know Your Enemy

Ptolemais, Northern Judea
March, 67 A.D.

While Placidus commenced his campaign of terror in Galilee, Titus arrived in Ptolemais with the Fifteenth Legion. It had taken a couple of days to ready the legion ready to march, seeing as how they had remained static near Alexandria for so long. He also delayed a couple of days in Ascalon in order to see, firsthand, just how bad the rebel losses were following the assault, as well as to make an assessment of the defenses, should the Jews attempt to take it once more. A few times they spotted mounted scouts, but no actual resistance materialized to face the legion. In all, it had taken them eighteen days to reach Ptolemais, three days faster than Titus first reckoned.
Vespasian was sitting just inside his principia tent, counting and sorting a pile of coins, when he heard the sounds of trumpets and cheering men. As officers were often transferred between the various legions, a number of centurions from the Fifth and Tenth Legions came out to greet their friends within the Fifteenth. The men in the ranks were elated to have more legionaries joining the fight, rather than having to place so much trust in the auxilia and notoriously unreliable eastern allies.
“General!” Titus said, as he entered the tent and removed his helmet. His hair was matted with sweat, and his entire body filthy from the dusty roads. He looked exhausted, yet he still sharply saluted his father and commander-in-chief. “Fifteenth Legion reporting for orders; all present and accounted for!”
He then walked over to a table that had a pitcher of water and goblets, thirstily downing two cups full.
“Well done,” Vespasian replied, making a couple of notes on a wax tablet. “You made good time. Any news to report from the south?”
“We did a lot of forced marches,” his son noted, taking a seat across from him. “I did take a thorough look at the carnage around Ascalon that I’m sure you heard about.”
“Yes, I hear it was quite the slaughter.”
“It was,” Titus remarked. “The pyre of enemy dead who attacked the city was still smoldering when we arrived. And their commanding centurion told me where his force attacked the enemy camp the next day. It was a gutsy move, but it paid off and then some. I dare say the stench of the rebel dead will linger for months.”
“The smell of a dead enemy is always sweet,” his father replied with macabre humor.
Titus then nodded towards the pile of money Vespasian was counting and gave him a puzzled look. “What have you there?” he asked.
“Well, I didn’t want the entire army sitting idle while waiting for the arrival of the Fifteenth,” Vespasian explained. “I sent Placidus to Sepphoris to reinforce the garrison and reassure the loyal citizens that Rome stands by them. I also directed his forces to begin scorching the surrounding villages. He has been rather…busy, you might say.” He chuckled at his last remark.
“Has he now.”
Titus and Placidus were not on the friendliest of terms. It wasn’t that they were enemies; Placidus felt Titus was far too young to be in command of a legion and only got his posting because of who his father was. Whereas Titus believed the auxilia corps commander was oftentimes reckless and put his troops at unneeded risks. Each man was, to a degree, both right and wrong about the other. Yet they were able to put their differences aside, if for no other reason than out of respect for their commanding general.
“A dozen villages are now piles of ash,” Vespasian said. “Thousands of rebellious Jews lie dead, and best of all, Placidus has netted us nearly ten thousand slaves, who are fetching a good price. I’m just making some notes on what we sold this latest lot for, then dividing the shares up amongst Placidus, his officers and men, and of course their commanding general.”
“Good,” Titus replied, finally matching his father’s grin. “Well, you said so yourself; a bit of warfare is a good way to make some real money.”
“It’s a lot more profitable than beekeeping or selling mules,” Vespasian observed.
“I don’t suppose I’ve missed all the action,” Titus said.
“Not at all,” his father replied, making a final note on his tablet. He then leaned back in his chair and folded his hands across his chest. “We’ve sold a few slaves and burned a handful of villages, but that is nothing to these Jews. They are very tough and will not break easily. There has been little in the way of resistance, which tells me that all of their fighting men are headed for the major cities. We suspect that whoever is in command in Galilee is rallying his forces in a single place, we just aren’t sure where yet.”
“You think they want to stand and fight us?” Titus asked. “They’d be foolish to do so, especially after what happened at Ascalon.”
“I doubt we will be so fortunate to face such a witless and foolish commander,” Vespasian conjectured. “If they were that reckless, they would have attacked Placidus by now. As it is, they’ve let him rampage everything within ten miles of Sepphoris.”
Their conversation was interrupted as an auxiliary cavalryman quickly dismounted outside the principia and stepped into the tent. He gave a quick salute before producing a small scroll. “Message for General Vespasian from General Placidus,” he said, handing the parchment to the commander-in-chief. “He asks that you come with the main army at once to Saab.”
“So I can see,” Vespasian replied, reading the short note. He then told the trooper, “Have Placidus leave two cohorts of infantry at Sepphoris. He is to take the rest of his corps and meet us at Saab in four days. I want a thorough reconnaissance sweep from Chabulon to Jotapata, all the way to Selame.”
“Yes, sir.” The soldier saluted and left the tent.
Titus had his head cocked to one side. “News from Placidus?”
“It would seem the main Judean army in Galilee found them,” his father replied. “Between thirty and forty thousand men, all well-armed, sought to take Sepphoris by negotiation. They were rebuffed by the city council, and when they saw our soldiers manning the ramparts, they withdrew.”
“I hope Placidus keeps his reconnaissance cavalry right on their backside,” Titus remarked. “If they scatter, so be it, we’ll just continue the purge of Galilee. But if they concentrate on a single stronghold, then we will know where to strike.”
“And that, my boy, is why you have the makings of a fine commanding general.” Vespasian did not readily hand out compliments, and so his words meant much to his son.
Titus found it to be an added privilege, if one with a lot of added pressure, serving as a legate under his own father. He constantly felt the need to perform equal to or better than his peers, lest good order and discipline suffer because rumors spread that he only got his command due to nepotism. It mattered not that Consul Paulinus had secured his appointment well before Vespasian was recalled to active service. Perception was everything when it came to morale within the ranks. Titus knew his own potential, and he certainly did not lack in combat experience. However, he had yet to fight his first action as a commanding legate. Soon enough he would be able to prove his mettle, for good or ill.
“There’s something else in this message,” Vespasian noted. “At least one of the Judean commanders is named Josephus ben Mathias. Have you heard of him?”
“No,” Titus replied, “but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t those within the army who have.”
“I want to find out whatever we can about this man,” Vespasian said. “In any campaign it is crucial to know one’s enemy as much as it is to know one’s self.” He turned to an aid. “Send word throughout the army, if anyone has knowledge regarding one Josephus ben Mathias, they are to report to me at once.”
“Sir.” The aid saluted and left.
Vespasian appeared to be lost in thought once more. “Josephus,” he muttered. “Somehow, I think I will get to know this name intimately.”


The wait while encamped at Ptolemais was almost as bad for Gaius’ legionaries as when they had been stuck in Ascalon. Rumors had been spreading that they would soon be breaking camp and invading Galilee. It was almost maddening, for the nearest rebel villages were barely ten miles from where the army was cantoned. That a corps of auxiliary troops was already laying waste to the countryside, while profiting off the sale of thousands of slaves, irritated the legionaries immensely. To keep their men occupied, Nicanor and Gaius set up training stakes and continued to drill their men on a continuous basis. When they weren’t practicing individual close combat, they trained in employing various formations; moving from column to battle formation, conducting passages-of-lines, covering down when individual soldiers were killed or wounded and, of course, the famous testudo.
It was during such practice that Centurion Antonius found them. “Nicanor!” he shouted.
“At ease, men,” Nicanor said to his century as he and Gaius walked quickly over to their cohort commander. “Sir?”
“General Vespasian just received a bit of intelligence that he’s hoping some of our men who’ve been stationed in the east can elaborate on. Check with your men, see if any of them are familiar with one named Josephus ben Mathias.” Antonius’ words hit Nicanor like a dagger in the heart.
“No,” he whispered, closing his eyes. “Please, not him…”
You know him?” Antonius asked, raising an eyebrow.
“All too well,” Nicanor replied with a nod.
“I’ll inform General Trajan,” the pilus prior said. “You’d best get your ass over to Vespasian’s principia and report to him at once.”
“Yes, sir.” Nicanor’s face was pale, and he looked as if he might be ill. Antonius simply nodded and made his way to where another of his centuries was training.
“I’ll go with you,” Gaius offered.
“What for?”
“Because you look like shit, and I figure you might need a little friendly support,” his optio replied. “Besides, I’ve never met General Vespasian, and this may be my one chance.”
The two men shared a nervous laugh before directing the signifier to dismiss the century.
“Why did it have to be him?” Nicanor sighed, as they made their way through the camp towards Vespasian’s headquarters.
“Is he the Jew you told me about that you were friends with before the war?” Gaius asked.
“That’d be him. Damn it all, I’ve known Josephus most of my life; he is like a brother to me. I had hoped we would not have to fight each other…”
It took them about twenty minutes to find their way to the center of the massive camp. Gaius wondered aloud if they’d be able to find their way back. His attempts at levity did not help his friend, as much as he tried. The commander-in-chief’s tent was easy to spot. It was much larger than any of the others, at least twice the size of a legion’s principia. Several legionaries stood guard outside, and they came to attention as the two officers approached. Nicanor let them know who he was, and one of the men stepped inside to announce them. After about a minute he came out and said, “You can go in, centurion.”
The inside of Vespasian’s headquarters was a lot more austere than Nicanor and Gaius had expected, for the commanding general was not one for useless clutter and pomp. The only statuary was a single pedestal with a bust of the emperor. There was nothing else in the way of d├ęcor. Towards the back of the tent was a long table, used to conduct meetings with the legates and auxiliary commanders. Vespasian sat behind the table, his son, General Titus, stood behind him, hands clasped behind his back. The centurion and optio strode across the way, stopped in front of the table, and saluted.
“Centurion Nicanor reporting, sir!”
Vespasian stood and returned the courtesy. “At ease, men,” he said. He then glanced over at Gaius. “And who are you?”
“My optio, sir,” Nicanor explained, “Gaius Artorius Armiger.”
“Artorius,” Vespasian said, furrowing his brow. “I feel I should know that name.”
“My father and grandfather both served with the Twentieth Legion during the Britannic Conquest, sir,” Gaius said. “Grandfather was the Twentieth’s master centurion.”
“Of course,” Vespasian said with a chuckle. “Can’t say I knew your father, but I knew your grandfather quite well. We fought beside each other during the assault on the barbarian fortress of Mai Dun. I hope you continue to do honor to his valiant name.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Now, centurion,” Vespasian said, looking once more at Nicanor. “I understand you know this Josephus, who it appears is a key leader of the resistance in Galilee.”
“Yes, sir,” Nicanor replied. “I was raised in the east. Josephus and I have known each other since we were boys.”
“You two are friends then,” the commanding general observed.
“We were,” Nicanor replied.
“Were?” Vespasian said, raising an eyebrow. “You mean you’re not still?”
“Well, there is a war going on, sir.”
“Yes, well, Julius Caesar still considered Pompey Magnus to be one of his closest friends, even when they were locked in a bloody civil war with each other. Have a seat, both of you.” Vespasian snapped his fingers and aids brought a pair of camp chairs over for the men.
Nicanor noticed that Titus remained silent the entire time, simply observing and taking in all that was said.
“Now,” Vespasian said, once the men were seated, “what can you tell me about this Josephus? Tell me everything that a soldier needs to know about his adversary.”
“He’s very clever,” Nicanor replied. “He’s foremost an intellectual and a scholar, but that does not mean he doesn’t know how to fight.”
“The mind is the most powerful weapon a man has,” Titus said, speaking up at last.
“Quite,” his father concurred. “Elaborate for me.”
“Even when we were young he read all the time, and not just Jewish histories. He told me once that he read Caesars, The Conquest of Gaul at least four times. I know he’s also read up on Tiberius’ campaigns in Raetia, as well as other Roman military works.”
“So he’s at least somewhat familiar with our tactics,” Titus noted, folding his arms across his chest.
“I would say so, sir,” Nicanor remarked. “He’s also been to Rome. A couple of years ago he was sent to negotiate the release of Jewish political prisoners.”
“And was he successful?” Vespasian asked, to which the centurion nodded. “Then he, no doubt, has an orator’s tongue.”
“That he does,” Nicanor said, continuing. “And if he’s studied Julius Caesar, then he knows more than just our tactics; he understands how logistics and supply lines work. It would explain why he has been given an independent command so far away from the central government.”
“And how he was able to field such a large force, even for the short march to Sepphoris,” Vespasian noted.
“Sir, if I may add,” Gaius said, “at Ascalon we saw that the rebels were trying to raise a permanent standing army. They know the only way to fight professional soldiers is with professionals of their own. It would not surprise me if Josephus was sent to Galilee to raise such a force here.”
“A sound observation, optio,” Vespasian acknowledged. He then said to Nicanor, “If Josephus is able to raise a standing army, where do you think he would deploy it?”
“He’s no fool, so I doubt he would concentrate in only one place,” the centurion said. “There are various factions of seditionists in the region, and I doubt that he’s been able to control all of them. One thing you’ll note about the peoples of this region is that many of their sects hate each other even more than they do us. They’ll face annihilation before they ever join together.”
“So where then?” the general persisted.
“He may try and use terrain to his advantage, strike us with the occasional ambush. As long as we take our time, cover the flanks of our approach, and not make the same mistakes as Gallus, this should not be an issue. Our army is also double the size of the previous invasion force, so he may not even bother attempting to fight us in the open. Most likely he’ll hold up in the various walled cities around Galilee and dare us to come to him.”
Titus then asked, “If he were able to unite with the seditionists, or receive reinforcements from Jerusalem, would that embolden him to fight us beyond his strongholds?”
“I believe so,” Nicanor nodded. “But after we slaughtered their forces at Ascalon, they may be hard pressed to find reinforcements. Judea has sufficient manpower to fight us, but like I said, they are very much divided. The psychological damage was far greater than the loss of life.”
“At least we know we’re not facing some mindless barbarian,” Vespasian observed. “This Josephus appears to be a worthy opponent.”
“I would say so, sir,” Nicanor agreed.
“That will be all for now,” Vespasian said. “I’ll let Trajan know that I may need your input the closer we get to cornering our adversary and so will keep you close. Dismissed.”
“Sir!” Nicanor and Gaius both said, as they stood and saluted.
They were just about to the entrance of the tent when Vespasian called out, “Centurion!”
“I understand if this man still means a lot to you,” the general remarked. “It’s never easy, having to go to war against one’s closest friends.”
“I’m still ready to do my duty, sir,” Nicanor asserted.
Vespasian gave a hard grin of determination and nodded. “I expect nothing less.”

James Mace James Mace is the author of twelve books and the CEO and Founder of Legionary Books, which he started in 2006. He developed his passion for history at a young age and has made Ancient Rome a life's study. He penned the initial draft of his first novel, Soldier of Rome: The Legionary, as a cathartic means of escapism while serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq. He spent a career as a Soldier, and in 2011 left his full-time position with the Army National Guard to devote himself to writing.

 His well received series, Soldier of Rome - The Artorian Chronicles, is a perennial best-seller in ancient history on Amazon. With his other favourite period in history being the British Empire, his writing has branched into the Napoleonic Wars. He is currently working on a new trilogy about the Roman-Jewish War of 66 to 73 A.D., along with a side project about the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.

Official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/legionarybooks Blog: http://legionarybooks.blogspot.com/ For More Information

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Autograph Penis by H.O. Tanager Book Feature #Nonfiction #poetry #poetryslam

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Autograph PenisTitle: Autograph Penis
Author: H.O. Tanager
Publisher: H.O. Tanager
Pages: 282
Genre: Nonfiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

 Performance artist H. O. Tanager holds high hopes for her cross-country trip to Boston: to see great art, to eat delicious food... and to incite mayhem. But once the journey actually begins, it’s all she can do to hold on for the ride. Surrounded by brilliant, intimidating, and sometimes delicious-smelling colleagues, Tanager’s precarious hold on her ambition and desire threatens to unravel in the face of laryngitis, an angry God, and the unexpected death of a friend. Will her team’s independent spirit and wit buoy Tanager though the pitfalls, heartache - and yes, mayhem - as hundreds of artists strive to be the best that ever was, the best that’s ever been?

 For More Information:
  Autograph Penis is available at Amazon.
Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble. 
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.    

My Team Goes To The Airport

Poets aren’t wealthy. Our cheap flight is at the thong of dawn. I wake up earlier than I meant to, which is good, because apparently in the a.m. fives it takes me 20 minutes to brush my teeth. My three teammates and I text each other – we’re awake, yes, we’re all going to get to the airport probably on time.

There’s a taxi ride in the cool blue darkness of I-shouldn’t-be-up-yet. Bag gets checked. There’s a line at security, what’s up with that? I text my poets, at security, there’s a line. Rookie, our rookie, is in line too. I see her a few rows down. She’s so pretty, her long straight brown hair flowing almost all the way to where her long young legs begin the flowing all over again, waiting her turn. She’s 20. I have stretch marks older than she is. I’m reflecting on youth, how I should have pressed my fingers on my face every day just to enjoy the feeling of my flesh bouncing back, when I get her text: I see you. You look beautiful. Wow I sound creepy.

One very good reason to be involved in slam is the compliments. Another is the acceptance and even the embracing of awkwardness.

H.O. Tanager

H. O. Tanager is an author, adventurer, and provocateur who divides her time amongst her passions: family, satirical performance pieces, and convincingly wearing slacks. She’s achieved so many things, she finds achievements boring. What she does like is surprise, and people who work hard, juxtaposition, and repurposing forms for her own amusement.

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Visit H.O.’s website. Connect with H.O. on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Russ Colchamiro, author of 'Genius De Milo'

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure Crossline, the hilarious scifi backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, and the outrageous sequel, Genius de Milo, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in West Orange, NJ, with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ is now at work on the final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

His latest book is the science fiction novel, Genius De Milo.

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About the Book:

Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the
galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:

The Earth has started fluxing in and out of existence, Theo's twin girls are teleporting, and Jason can't tell which version of his life is real.

All because of
Milo, the Universe's ultimate gremlin.

Joined by the mysterious Jamie — a down-and-out hotel clerk from Eternity — Jason and Theo reunite on a frantic, cross-country chase across
America, praying they can retrieve that jar, circumvent Milo, and save the Earth from irrevocable disaster.

In author Russ Colchamiro’s uproarious sequel to Finders Keepers, he finally confirms what we've long suspected — that there’s no galactic
Milo quite like a Genius de Milo.

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Welcome to the book club, Russ!  First, I am so in love with that cover.  I don’t know if it’s the colors or what but it just pops.  Before we get into the meat of the interview, can you tell us who did your lovely cover?

Russ: Glad you like the cover for Genius de Milo! It’s really exciting. The design concept is actually mine, including the color scheme and all of the bubbles with the DNA helixes inside. That’s significant to the plot, by the way!

But my pal and fellow author Roy Mauritsen is the creative genius and art designer who brought it all to life. This is his baby. And it was his idea to add the hand with the pin about to pop one of those bubbles. It ties the entire concept together. He did a fantastic job. Roy does covers for lots of people. I hope to work with him again.

In your book, Genius De Milo, two teenagers - Jason Medley and Theo Barnes – are backpacking through Europe and New Zealand and they find something interesting. Can you tell us more about that?

Russ: When we first meet Jason and Theo in Finders Keepers, the first book in the trilogy, they are both actually in their early 20s, with Jason from New York and Theo from New Zealand. They not only come from opposite corners of the world, but they have entirely different personalities. Jason hasn’t traveled much, is kind of a nervous Nellie, and has no idea how to get himself from one place to the next! But Theo is more mellow, and an experienced traveler. They meet unexpectedly in Venice, and become fast friends. Together they just seem to fit.

Yet while still in New Zealand, Theo found a jar that causes these hallucinogenic side effects he can’t explain. (The jar contains the Universe’s DNA, but he only discovers that much later). In any case, it makes him feel like he’s winding through the fabric of the Universe, so he’s compelled to find answers, and finds his way to Europe.

Jason knows none of this when they first meet in Venice, but by the time their adventure is over, they’ve pretty much saved the Milky Way from disaster.

My new book, Genius de Milo, picks up a few years after that. The Universe is fluxing in and out of Existence, Theo’s twin three-year-old girls are teleporting, and Jason can’t tell which version of his life is real. That’s because Milo – the Universe’s gremlin — got his hands on that jar of DNA and is causing trouble.

That sends Jason and Theo across America to put things right, and keep Milo from destroying the planet. Again. Along the way they are joined by Jamie — a hotel clerk from Eternity — who may or may not have their best interests in mind.

Take us into the lives of Jason and Theo – what are their strengths and what are their weaknesses?

Russ: In Genius de Milo Theo is now a family, but he still has that travel bug in him. He almost always wishes he were out there in the world going on adventures, so he’s not as focused on the here and now as he probably should be. But because of that innate adventurer’s spirit — and the temperament to just kind of roll with the punches if those journeys don’t go according to plan — he’s able to keep them on track, even when he and Jason veer way, way, way off course.

Jason, meanwhile, is far more grounded, and in fact is about to propose to his girlfriend. He’s building a career, and genuinely wants to help other people. But he still inherently seeks the approval of others, and has trouble trusting that he’s on the right path. What confuses him most — but may in fact be his greatest asset given the predicament they are in — is that despite his generally conservative nature he seems to be in tune with the shifts in the Universe.

Meaning … he’s really quite intuitive about the sense that things aren’t ‘quite right’, and even though he’s not sure what that means, and that nobody other than Theo could possibly understand him, he’s learning to trust those instincts more, and make decisions accordingly. And sometimes that means sacrificing what he wants for what others need.

How did you come up with such a cute storyline?

Russ: The Finders Keepers series is loosely based on a series of backpacking trips I’ve taken over the years through Europe and New Zealand and my travels across the U.S.

Separately   years ago I had been tinkering around with some story ideas and one day, out of nowhere, a line popped into my head:

"Jason Medley had on his night stand a jar that contained the essence of the universe."

And I said to myself: “Who in the heck is Jason Medley and what on God's green earth is the essence of the universe?”

I really didn’t know the answer to either, but my own travels where so outrageous that I started to see the narrative coming together, linking my trips around the world with this tale of cosmic lunacy — an Earthbound backpacking adventure meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Also … I read a lot about philosophy, mythology, and spirituality, which have become core tenants of my personal life. Those ideas are very much a part of this series. And don’t worry … these are fun and funny popcorn books and are meant to put a smile on your face. But there’s real substance too.

They say that all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point where the reader just can’t put the book down.  What do you think is that one pivotal point in Genuis De Milo?

Russ: I know it would be totally lame of me to say that I think there are tons of pivotal moments! Ha! But early on The Minder of the Universe — that’s the omnipresent character who basically oversees the Universe — discovers that the Earth is fluxing in and out of its existence, and that if something isn’t done about it soon, the planet he loves most will be wiped out forever. He also realizes that Milo, his ultimate eternal foil, is the cause. So it’s game on!

And, of course, Jason and Theo end up right smack in the middle of this galactic smack down.

If that doesn’t give you an idea of what you’re in for with Genius de Mio, I’m not sure what will.

What’s next for you, Russ?

Russ: I’m already working on the third and final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy, which I’m hoping will be ready by Fall 2016. I’m also contributing a short story to Pangaea, an alternate reality anthology my author pals and I at Crazy 8 Press are writing. Pangaea was actually successfully funded through a Kickstarter campaign. After that … lots more books!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with 'A Dream Called Marilyn' Mercedes King

A founding member of Sisters in Crime Columbus, Ohio (affectionately dubbed SiCCO), Mercedes King can be found elbow-deep in research, reading, or enjoying the local bike path. Combining her love of pop culture with history, she created A Dream Called Marilyn, a fictional take on the last weeks of Marilyn’s life. With an unquenchable thirst for a bygone era, she’s also written O! Jackie, a fictional take on Jackie Kennedy's private life--and how she dealt with JFK's affairs. Short story fans would enjoy The Kennedy Chronicles, a series featuring Jackie and Jack before the White House and before they were married. Visit Mercedes’ website at www.mercedesking.com to find out more.
For More Information
About the Book:

In the summer of 1962, nothing could prepare Dr. Charles Campbell for his first meeting with new client, Marilyn Monroe. A reputable L.A. psychiatrist, he’s been hired by a studio executive to treat and subdue the star, no matter what it takes. Although he’s been warned about Ms. Monroe’s unpredictability, she’s not what he expected. Gaining Marilyn’s trust means crossing doctor-patient boundaries, and trying to separate fact from Hollywood-fed-rumors proves destructive to both Charles’ career and his personal life. As Marilyn shares her secrets and threatens to go public with information that could destroy President Kennedy’s administration, Charles’ world turns upside-down. He sinks deeper into her troubles than he should, but Charles becomes determined to help her, even though it means endangering Marilyn’s life and risking his own. 

For More Information

  • A Dream Called Marilyn is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Thanks for joining us at the book club, Mercedes.  I love the premise of your new book, A Dream Called Marilyn!  I have always been a fan of Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedys. Are you a big fan and is this the reason why you wrote your book?

Mercedes: I became a bigger fan after starting my research and getting into the story. Until recently, I’d been satisfied with the image of her that many have: she’s sexy, alluring, and died tragically. This story helped fill in more details about her. 

Did you do any research on the life of Marilyn Monroe before you wrote the book?

Mercedes: Yes, plenty. From watching her movies to reading and so on, I mined for those details of her life and basically ‘what went wrong’ for her. It’s a hard question to chase an answer for, especially when we already know what her outcome was. 

What kind of person was the real Marilyn Monroe?

Mercedes: I think Marilyn was lonely and insecure. Like everybody else, she wanted the things that matter: a happy home life, a good marriage, children. She loved the spotlight and adoration, but sometimes, fulfilling her acting duties was difficult. She battled stage fright, even after dozens of films. I also think she had the potential to be a strong woman and speak up for herself, but at the time, the industry was cruel to women; it was easy for directors and producers to play up her blonde bombshell image and to repress what she really wanted as an actress.

Do you believe that Marilyn was misunderstood?

Mercedes: Misunderstood and used, yes. Hollywood did what they wanted with Marilyn, and sadly, no one was really there for her or had her back. No one stood up for her and helped her with her issues. Pills and alcohol were all she had most days, and those only added to her problems. Most people wanted a piece of the Marilyn pie. No on took a true interest in helping her, just for the sake of helping her, and with no strings attached. 

Can you tell us a little about Dr. Charles Campbell?

Mercedes: He's a man of his times. Charles is successful and ambitious, prideful and trapped in his own belief system. When he’s asked to take on Marilyn as a client, of course he thinks of his reputation. He’s also nervous about being alone with the most beautiful woman in the world (because his marriage is in shambles), but he immediately determines to be what Marilyn has never had before: a confidant. He wants to help her, even though it means crossing doctor-patient boundaries. At the same time, he struggles with his desires for her, and what it would be liked to be loved by her. It lands him in a great dilemma, because he has to sacrifice. 

They say in all books there are pivotal points where the reader just can’t put the book down.  What’s one of yours?

Mercedes: I hope there are several, such as when Marilyn tells Dr. Campbell (during their first meeting) that she’s dangerous. Who would think of Marilyn Monroe as ‘dangerous’ and why does she say this? There’s another scene, later on, where Marilyn drops a bombshell on Dr. Campbell and puts him in an awkward position. What should a guy do with that kind of unexpected information. Plus, he realizes that Marilyn’s life could be at stake, and he struggles with what to do. 

I hope everyone goes out and purchases a copy of this wonderful and eye-opening book.  What’s next for you, Mercedes?

Mercedes: More books, more stories. But I hope readers enjoy this story enough to go and check out my other novels and short stories. That’ll help curb the wait for the new novel I’m working on.

Friday, April 17, 2015

You Won't Remember This by Kate Blackwell #shortstories #southernfiction

Title: You Won’t Remember This
Author: Kate Blackwell
Publisher: Bacon Press Books
Pages: 232
Genre: Short Stories/Southern Fiction
Format: Kindle

The twelve stories in Kate Blackwell’s debut collection illuminate the lives of men and women who appear as unremarkable as your next-door-neighbor until their lives explode quietly on the page. Her wry, often darkly funny voice describes the repressed underside of a range of middle-class characters living in the South. Blackwell’s focus is elemental—on marriage, birth, death, and the entanglements of love at all ages—but her gift is to shine a light on these universal situations with such lucidity, it is as if one has never seen them before.

For More Information

  • You Won’t Remember This is available at Amazon.
  • Purchase book at Bacon Press Books.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
  • Read excerpt here.
Book Excerpt:

Carpe Diem

            The "shadow line," Kurt calls it. Carroll believes he is referring to age, to some transitional moment into old age. But what moment exactly? When we are too old to make love? Too tired to feel desire? Kurt shrugs. When our hopes are extinguished? When I'll never see you again? What line are you talking about, Kurt?
            Kurt is almost fifty but looks younger. His hair is a dark silky brown. His skin is smooth. There is a youthful leprechaun quality about him, though he is beginning to have a paunch about the belly. He does not get enough exercise. If he could ski regularly, he says, he would lose that flab. Kurt is an expert skier. He learned to ski when he was five, in Germany. When he was eleven, he had a terrible accident that broke both legs below the knee. The fractured fibulas erupted through flesh and skin. Carroll, drawing her finger along the deep scars on Kurt's calves, tries to envision the accident, the broken skis, the bloodied snow, the boy lying there in the snow, waiting for someone to come.
            But she has a hard time picturing Kurt as a boy. Sometimes she has a hard time remembering what he looks like now. Though they have been together for nearly two years, loosely speaking—she has her own place, he has his—they really do not see that much of each other. Kurt is a free-lance photographer and is often traveling. Benin. Djibouti. Sucre. Carroll, too, is busy. She owns and runs a nursery school called Sunshine Day for three- and four-year-olds. Sometimes months go by when Carroll and Kurt do not see each other, though sometimes, out of the blue, he will call from some distant place. She will hear his voice, high-pitched and tentative, a as if he did not expect her to answer (or perhaps it’s the connection that makes it sound that way?)—Hello? Remember me?—and she feels such happiness it terrifies her. Does he actually believe she has forgotten him?
            And yet, in certain ways, she does forget. Today, standing in her school yard among all the small revved-up bodies and high yelling voices, sniffing the odors of sand and lilac, she tries to conjure his face. She knows his eyes are green, his nose small and sharp, his skin lightly freckled. But she cannot visualize his mouth or the curve of his cheek or his expression when he looks at her. She cannot remember his voice. She expects to hear that voice, though, perhaps in a few hours. Kurt is due back today from Mali. Or is it Niger? The prospect of seeing him makes her giddy. He has been away nearly two months. Even so, even in the midst of her excitement, she can't help asking herself where this relationship is going. The question occurs to her all the time, but whenever she alludes to the future—an off-hand reference to season tickets for the opera or a time-share deal on a beach house—Kurt shakes his head.
            "Carpe diem," he says, in his lightly accented speech.
            And Carroll, though she is not seeking permanence, though she does not believe that relationships require official bonds, though she is happy living on her own and seeing Kurt for compressed periods of passion and good talk, is enraged.
            Carpe diem indeed.