Sunday, January 31, 2016

PUYB Chats With Daniela I. Norris, author of 'Recognitions'

Daniela I. Norris is a former diplomat, turned political writer, and with age and wisdom - inspirational author and speaker. Her award-winning stories, articles and essays have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies.
Published books include -
- Crossing Qalandiya - Exchanges Across the Israeli Palestinian Divide (Reprtage Press, 2010)
- On Dragonfly Wings - a skeptic's journey to mediumship (Axis Mundi Books, 2014)
- Collecting Feathers: tales from The Other Side (Soul Rocks Books, 2014)

Recognitions, part of a trilogy, is her first novel.

Daniela lives with her family near Geneva, Switzerland, and is co-director of the Geneva Writers' Conference and part of the International Grief Council panel (

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About the Book:

Title: Recognitions
Author: Daniela I. Norris
Publisher: Roundfire Books
Pages: 200
Genre: Inspirational/Women’s Fiction

Amelia Rothman, a foreign-rights editor from New York, has a turbulent personal life. She juggles a divorce and two teenage kids, and decides to seek hypnotherapy to help her deal with insomnia and anxieties. But when during the session an unexpected event emerges, she tries to understand how it is relevant to her current life and why it suddenly triggers a series of synchronicities that take her on an unexpected personal journey to the depth of her subconscious. 

At once a spiritual and psychological novel, Recognitions explores the concepts of past lives, recognition of people and their roles in our present lives and life lessons. 

Praise for Recognitions:

Think Cloud Atlas, a classic story of rebirth, many lives, and reincarnation on a level that involves protagonists in other lives – but take it a step further in Recognitions, the first novel in a trilogy, which presents a woman under hypnosis who sometimes encounters a French girl on the cusp of marriage and sometimes an African shaman facing a village’s struggles with illness and slavery.
Then take these diverse lives and weave them together in the story of a modern-day woman, Amelia (who must deal with these other lives and her own daily challenges, and who faces her own struggle to understand the connections and messages that lie in her dreams and hypnotic state), and you have an emotionally charged saga filled with three threads that lead back to one tapestry of wonder.
Under a different hand, this saga of birth, death, and afterlife could have easily proved confusing: it’s no simple matter to create three disparate, very different lives, and weave them together with purpose and discovery; no easy venture to bring all these pieces to life and then meld them into one… a story that is quietly compelling: a moving saga highly recommended for any reader interested in predetermination, past lives, and how three disparate worlds weave together.

-- Midwest Book Reviews

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Q: Can you tell us why you wrote your book?

Recognitions is my first novel, and I wrote it because the topics of past lives and the possible role of people in our current lives always fascinated me. I tried to touch on these subjects in a collection of short stories I published in 2014, but a novel just felt like a more natural way of telling the story. One novel turned into three, and so Recognitions is in fact the first of a trilogy.

Q: Which part of the book was the hardest to write?

The end was the hardest to write, because knowing that there are two more books coming up, I had to decide what to give away (and what not). There are some questions left open, and they will be answered in parts 2 and 3 of the trilogy.

Q: Does your book have an underlying message that readers should know about?

I believe that some people have specific roles in our lives, and are there in order to help us on our life’s journey, whether they know it or not. Are these roles coincidental or predetermined? This is for the readers to explore and decide.

Q: Do you remember when the writing bug hit?

At about age 5, when I first learned to write. I still have notebooks with silly little stories and poems I wrote between the ages of 5 and 10.

I always knew that I wanted to become a writer when I am older, but I also knew that I needed to gain some experience in life in order to have writing subjects that are interesting enough to read!

Q: Besides books, what else do you write?  Do you write for publications?

I write articles, short stories and essays – all for publication. There is nothing wrong with writing for yourself, or for family and friends to read, of course. But for me, seeing my books in print is a real thrill and was always my objective – and so I tried to pick topics that will interest others to read about.

Q: Do you have a writing tip you’d like to share?

The secret to writing – is simply writing. The more you write, the better chance that something worth reading will come out.
A page of writing can always be edited and improved upon – a blank page can’t!

Q:  Would you like to tell us about your home life?  Where you live?  Family?  Pets?

I have three boys and a dog – and live in a small village not far from Geneva, Switzerland. Before I moved here ten years ago, I lived in Paris, Lima, Luanda, Toronto and Tel Aviv. So – obviously – I like to travel!

Q: What do you do to get away from it all?

I love walking in the mountains, and I also love reading and yoga. So I guess my ideal getaway would be a yoga retreat in the mountains, with a good book to read!

Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promoting your book?

I am not that keen on promotion but understand it is an indispensible part of publishing. I do like book events and talking to people, so the first thing I did was to book a series of events!

Q: Are you familiar with the social networks and do you actively participate?

I am indeed on twitter and facebook but I must admit I can not quite understand the former, but am addicted to the latter. You can connect with me here and here @DanielaINorris but please be patient with me if I am a bit slow on Twitter!

Q: How do you think book promotion has changed over the years?

I am not quite sure about the new-ish obsession with reviews, it forces authors to beg readers to review their book. While I do hope readers enjoy Recognitions, I also understand that not everyone has the time or inclination to go and review every book they read. That said – if you do feel inclined to write a short review – I would be much obliged!

Q: What is the most frustrating part of being an author?

For me it’s the need to publicize, even to ‘shout out’ about your book so people can hear about it. However, there’s a fun part to it, too – and for me it is connecting with real people all over the world. So I am not complaining!

Q: What is the most rewarding?

Connecting with people from all over the world and knowing that someone I’ve never met might find something small in one of my books that would perhaps inspire them.

Q: How do you think book publishing has changed over the years?

It’s amazing how the online community and social media has changed things -

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world other than where you are right now, where would that place be?

I actually really like where I am right now, but I’d love to visit Tibet one day in the not-too-distant-future!

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Daniela.  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for reading, I do hope you enjoy reading Recognitions.

The Daffodils Still Grow by Sherri Elizabeth Tidwell

Title: The Daffodils Still Grow: A Book for Grieving Daughter
Author: Sherri Elizabeth Tidwell
Publisher: Mascot Books
Pages: 38
Genre: Children’s Picture Book 

The Daffodils Still Grow is a full-color illustrated book that portrays life after a loved one dies as seen from the observations of a motherless child. “Beautiful and inspiring.”

For More Information

  • The Daffodils Still Grow is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Watch a narrated video of the book at YouTube.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Crystal the Christmas Angel by Theresa Oliver

Title: Crystal the Christmas Angel
Author: Theresa Oliver
Publisher: Write More Publications
Pages: 66
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

All of the angels in Heaven are preparing for a big event, and Crystal, a little angel, wants to be a part of it. But the more she tries, the more the angels tell her that she is just too little. That is, until God himself gives her the biggest, most important task of all ... going with the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, and bringing God’s greatest gift to the world. But can Crystal do what God asks? Journey with Crystal as she discovers that God sometimes chooses the most unlikely for the greatest tasks. Crystal also discovers that you are never too little to do great things. You just need to believe and never give up.

For More Information

  • Crystal the Christmas Angel is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Transform: The Secret to Unlocking the Perfect You by Dede Barbanti

Title: TRANSFORM: The Secret to Unlocking the Perfect You
Author: Dede Barbanti
Pages: 257
Genre: Self Help/Lifestyle/Health/Weight Loss

Finally, a book that will provide you with the answers that change your body and your life! TRANSFORM really is the SECRET TO UNLOCKING THE PERFECT YOU. Once weighing over 200 pounds, Fitness and lifestyle expert Dede Barbanti not only gives you the tools to achieve your weight-loss goals, but helps you dig deep to fix the core issues that keep you from lasting success and your true potential.

This is not your traditional weight-loss book. Most diet books focus on the outside by changing your eating and exercise routines,but they fail to find the root cause of your bad habits: what, why, and where they all started. These band-aid treatments never treat the problem, only the symptom, and most people find themselves back at square one, frustrated and defeated. Dede's no-holds-barred approach gets your booty into gear by tackling the real issues of your weight loss merry-go-round; so you can stop the madness and unlock the perfect you.

You can continue reading all of those other diet and lifestyle books that ultimately keep you repeating the same old story and never seems to get you anywhere, or you can get real with yourself and finally bring about the changes that you have always wanted...permanently!

For More Information

  • TRANSFORM: The Secret to Unlocking the Perfect You is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Book Excerpt:
Have you ever seen someone who turns heads and lights up the room just by walking in? Have you ever met someone who draws people to them magnetically? Who seems perfect in every way?
Do you find that you often compare yourself to these people? Wishing you had what they have, or looked how they look? Oh, come on, you know you’ve done it! We all have at one point or another in our lives. We have a tendency to compare ourselves with classmates and coworkers. We compare ourselves with our ex-partners or their ex-partners, our siblings, our parents, our heroes, even random people on the street! Comparing ourselves with others is something many of us do, especially when we aren’t fulfilled in our own body or life.
But no good could ever come from this, and most of the time, we’re using a very inaccurate gauge. We often look at the wrong things because somewhere along the way, we decided that people with more money or seemingly better bodies live more valuable lives. We compare ourselves to others by looking at their clothes, cars, homes, paychecks, beauty, or Instagram followers. . . but how much money you make and how many toys you have are rarely a good measure.
Outside appearance or net worth has never been a good indicator of self-worth.
You will never benefit from comparing your life to others.’ There will always be people who appear to be better off than you, who seemingly live perfect lives, but that’s because we always compare the worst of what we know about ourselves to the best that we assume about others. Trust me when I say their lives are never as perfect as your mind makes them out to be.
Comparing yourself to others puts your focus on the wrong person and lets you forget that you can control only one life—yours. Comparing yourself to others wastes precious energy you should be spending on your own life. It invites you to regret what you aren’t, rather than enjoy who you are.
It will always steal the joy and happiness within your grasp—and place it just beyond your reach. By focusing on what they have or how they look and wishing you had more of it, you are robbing yourself of your most precious gift—you! Your life!


What you are not realizing is the perfection that is you, and that you have the tools and the power to create the life and body you have always desired.
I’ve never been one to beat around the bush. I’m a straight shooter, so I’m going to give you the answer right from the get-go: the real secret to unlocking a perfect, hot new you is in finding peace and balance in every aspect of your life. Yup, I said it: your life. Not your neighbors,’ coworkers,’ the hottest celebrity, or anyone else, for that matter. Yours!
Does it mean everything in your life will be peachy keen and miraculously healed? Nope! It just means whatever the goal—whether it is to lose weight and keep it off, to stay fit, be happy, feel sexy, or make your dreams come true—everything begins and ends with having faith and harmony in your life and within yourself.
By picking up this book, you are taking a big step toward changing your body and your life forever. It is my hope that the information and exercises in these pages will bring about an amazing transformation that empowers you to realize just how incredible you are. I firmly believe that losing weight, getting fit, and living a more balanced life will transform your work and all of your relationships, and most of all, will change you from within. Because when you realize that you can do anything you set your mind to, the sky’s the limit!
I am in my fabulous forties, a single mother of three great kids, and a fitness and lifestyle coach, but life has not always been the glitz and glam that it is now. (Note the slight hint of sarcasm?) To sum up my life before as quickly as possible, I was on top of the world, with a successful fifteen-year career as a professional choreographer and competitive dancer. In my late twenties I got married, got pregnant, and left dance entirely. I ended up getting a regular nine-to-five in real estate, and with tremendous success in sales eventually became a licensed broker. During this same time, I had two more children and got divorced, and the real estate market crashed. I found myself very overweight, eating and drinking a lot, totally broke, and alone. So yes, there is a lot that I am not going into detail over because that could literally take forever and would be a novel in itself!
So what happened to me? At some point during all of this, I totally lost who I was, my passion for life, and my passion for myself. I had always been active and fit, and I had always known what I wanted. I always had direction, but that person had disappeared. What I was facing in the mirror was an overweight, empty version of my former self. Now, don’t get me wrong. My kids are my passion and what I live for, but as you all know, it’s very easy to lose who you are when all you do is give to everyone around you. How could I raise my children to be happy, confident, independent, successful individuals when I wasn’t modeling that in my own life?
After some serious reflection, I had to accept where I had gone wrong. I am a firm believer that the best teachers, coaches, and mentors are the ones that have been there themselves. How can one truly guide someone else if they haven’t experienced the same struggles? Nobody is perfect. I’m just a regular mom who has been through many of the same obstacles you have faced and come out on the other side.

This doesn’t mean my life is perfect or that my way is the only way. I’m just very resilient, and what I did worked for me. It has changed the lives of countless people I’ve had the pleasure of working with, too. My hope is that my advice will help you understand things from a different perspective and shed light where you may have gone wrong. The truth is, no one person knows it all. I continue to grow and learn. My hope is that you will as well, because I want to help you in any way I can. But let’s face it. How can someone help you lose weight if they don’t understand how it feels to be unhappy in their own skin and they haven’t lost a substantial amount of weight themselves?
How can they tell you what steps you need to take if they don’t understand the process themselves? How can they tell you to have faith and just do it if they haven’t experienced the internal and emotional struggles you deal with every day? How can they tell you how to balance your hectic family and work life if they don’t have kids and a full-time job themselves? How can they give advice about financial struggles if they haven’t experienced them? How can they tell the struggling single mom that she needs to put her health first if they don’t understand the day-to-day battles that she has to fight alone? The list can go on and on—the point being, the best person to help guide you in making positive, permanent changes is someone that has walked in your shoes and overcome those same obstacles.
Let’s face it—things go wrong, plans change, people will let you down; but it’s what you do and the choices you make that determine your happiness. So before you try to blast me with excuses like “I have kids,” “There just isn’t enough time in a day,” “My husband/ex doesn’t help me,” “I work too much,” or “I’m too tired,” don’t even bother. Been there, done that. I know every excuse in the book. I am a firm believer that if you follow your passion, you will find your life’s purpose. When you want something bad enough, you will not let anything or anyone stand in your way. So you can sit there and make excuse after excuse, but the truth is,
If you want it bad enough, you will do whatever it takes.
This book isn’t just for people that want to lose weight or get healthier. This is an overall health and lifestyle book, and it can be just as powerful for those who want to rediscover themselves, gain perspective, and find that passion in their lives. There are many so-called experts out there that will tell you what to do, as if we live in a society where everything runs perfectly in Wonderland. Umm, no. Reality check, people! I live on this planet, and I know and have experienced the difficulties and crap life throws our way. Heck, with all the stuff I have been through, I’d like to say I am quite the expert. My life is not and has never been perfect. I thank God for that, because I know that every difficulty I have encountered has taught me major lessons and helped shape the person I am today.
You don’t have to love to work out. You don’t have to love eating healthy or become some fanatic. But you do have to love yourself enough to change on the inside and exercise and eat right to take care of the outside.
My hope is for you to see your true potential and inner strength and to know that every obstacle can be a stepping stone toward changing your life for the better—forever! I want to show you that there really are no boundaries, other than those you design yourself.

I want to bring back that spark, desire, and passion about yourself. I want you to be excited about the work that goes into achieving your desires and goals, whatever they may be.
You are capable of anything and everything you set your mind to. You are capable of more than you realize and give yourself credit for. Feeling beautiful begins within, not on the outside, and unlocking the secret to the perfect you lies within my three principles.
You are the one in control of your mind, your body, and the life you want to design for yourself, right now, in this very moment! 

Everything to Lose by JP Ratto

Title: Everything To Lose
Author: JP Ratto
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Pages: 250
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Private investigator Lucas Holt is on a mission…
Lucas Holt specializes in kidnap recovery. Ex-Delta Force and a former NYPD detective, he has spent the last fifteen years burying himself in case files to cope with the unsolved abduction of his daughter, Marnie.
Janet Maxwell just can’t let go…
After the death of Janet’s husband and son in a tragic car accident, she hopes Holt’s expertise can locate the daughter she gave up for adoption seventeen years ago. Janet knows her actions will have explosive repercussions for the girl’s father—presidential candidate, Todd Grayson. With no family, hope of finding her only daughter is all she has left. Or is there a more sinister motive?
There’s no greater incentive for a father than protecting his daughter…
On a mission to bury the constant reminder of his failure to recover Marnie, Holt agrees to Janet’s proposal. But at what cost? When his inquiries lead to news of the death of another woman, Holt can’t shake the feeling something is off about the whole case. And when new evidence surfaces about Marnie's disappearance, his drive to recover Janet’s daughter and his own become one and the same.
Crooked candidates, hired mercenaries, bitter lovers, and his own life on the line—will Holt find it inside him to risk it all in the line of duty? There’s no telling how far you’re willing to go when you have everything to lose.
  • Everything To Lose is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Book Excerpt:
The woman in the sunburst yellow dress settled behind a small boy who stood between his parents in the front row. In her carefully chosen spot, she would have no problem seeing the senator. More important, he would be able to see her.
Following the presidential candidate’s schedule occupied most of her time. She knew him, and his routines. He was a clever politician, a clever man. At one time, she admired that about him. In spite of his womanizing history, she’d held him in high esteem. She hadn’t cared about the rumors of his less-than-ethical political acumen. He was bright and confident. Like her, he knew what he wanted and achieved it. The one thing he lacked was loyalty. That was his one unforgivable flaw.
A momentary stab of rejection cut through her as crushing memories of betrayal clamored to the forefront of her mind. Another staunch memory held them at bay, protecting her as always from thoughts that could leave her filled with rage or shattered from distress. I did what I had to. He gave me no choice.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Average Girl by Angelina Goode

Title: The Average Girl
Author: Angelina Goode
Publisher: Beach Blanket Publishing
Pages: 228
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Being average can lead to wonderful things…
Olivia Fowler, helper of the star-struck, runs a successful business helping average people meet celebrities in everyday ways. Flawless at what she does, the celebrities don’t have a clue they’re part of a pre-planned meeting. Business is booming and Olivia knows everything there is to know about Hollywood’s famous and their behavior. Her clients trust her because she is just like them, not famous.
But when Olivia accidentally meets the super-famous Alexander Young at the grocery store, her world is flipped upside-down. She can’t possibly resist those charming eyes and sexy arms. As their romance blossoms, Olivia learns she may not know as much as she thought she did about celebrities and their ways.
Then Olivia’s most important and loyal client requests to meet Alexander. Suddenly, Olivia is forced to choose between her love and her business.
Will Olivia be able to keep her booming business a secret from her soon-to-be boyfriend? Will her clients still trust her if she is no longer the average girl?

For More Information

Book Excerpt:
I sit quietly at the Starbucks on the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevard, pretending to work on my laptop. Two tables away from me and next to the condiment counter sits my client, Sarah, drinking coffee and pretending to read a book. This is our second day at this Starbucks and we have already been here for forty minutes. I am beginning to wonder if we should re-evaluate our plan.
Suddenly a wave of hushed excitement spreads through the store. Everyone’s eyes are glued to the swinging front doors as Ryan Scott strides through with his shoulders back and chin up. Everyone’s eyes, that is, but Sarah’s. She looks at me without turning her head, and I give her the tiniest of nods before spinning back around to stare. She responds to my nod by feigning interest in her Jane Austen novel.
Great Sarah! Keep calm. I know you want to burst inside, but play it cool.
Ryan’s eyes quickly scan the room. Before they return to the menu board, they briefly linger on Sarah, the only person who appears not to notice him. He orders his grande latte with a double shot of espresso and leans smugly against the counter with his arms folded across his chest. He appears to be staring into space, yet every few moments his eyes fall back to Sarah, who has still not looked up from her book. 
The barista calls his name, and he pauses to make sure everyone hears it before he reaches for the drink. When he turns around, Sarah is beginning to pack her things, leaving the Austen novel on the table. He heads toward the condiment counter for his regular three sugars. Just as we had rehearsed, Sarah stands up, still focused on packing up, and he tries to pass her. He stops for a moment, Sarah blocking his way.
Thank goodness these celebrities are creatures of habit. It makes my job so much easier.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there.” She breathes calmly as she speaks to him. She slings her navy-blue Coach bag over her shoulder and smiles, her head leaning to the side, her eyes soft. 
“That’s all right,” Ryan responds. He stands waiting for her to move but blocks her exit. He half smiles at her.
 “Okay then.” Sarah glances toward the door behind him, still smiling.
“Oh, now I’m in your way,” he declares as he steps aside and watches Sarah move toward the door. “Wait, hey, your book!”
I exhale. The one contingency worked as planned. Should be easy from here on out, as long as she sticks to the script.
She stops and turns back, hiding her smile. Ryan stands there, holding her book in his hands. “Jane Austen, huh.” He smirks. “I’m shooting a movie based on one of her books next month.”
“Oh, you’re an actor. What book?” she asks, pretending not to know.            
Pride and Prejudice.” He seems intrigued by Sarah’s indifference. “Well, here you go—” He ends his sentence by fishing for her name.
“Sarah,” she finishes for him.
“Sarah,” he repeats, revealing a slow, sexy smile, “maybe we can have a cup of coffee next time.” He holds out the book but is not loosening his grip.
“Yes, maybe.” She takes the book from him, and he lets her. “Thanks.” Then she is out the door. Ryan turns and grabs his three sugars, looking around the room again to make sure everyone is still watching. Before he finishes stirring them in, I am out on the street and dialing Sarah’s cell number.
“Wow! That was unbelievable! I can’t believe it worked!” she cries.
“You were awesome! Did you see the way he looked at you?” I ask.
“Yes! I did!” She pauses. “Thank you so much, Olivia. You really made my dream come true. I mean, I never could have done this without you. I’m going to recommend you to all my friends,” she rattles on.
Thrilled that all went as planned, I head back down Santa Monica Boulevard toward my office.

Tearing Down the Statues by Brian Bennudriti

Title: Tearing Down the Statues
Author: Brian Bennudriti
Publisher: Grailrunner Publishing
Pages: 344
Genre: Science Fiction

Misling is a Recorder, having perfect memory and expected to help build a seamless record of history. That’s what the Salt Mystic taught us two thousand years ago when she came stumbling from the flats with her visions. Unfortunately he’s probably the worst Recorder ever. So when he meets a joker with an incredible secret, the two of them are soon on the run from swarming lunatics and towering assault troops in the heart of a city under siege.

As it has for three generations, the horrible Talgo family is the spark of this swelling world war; and their wily generals and scheming counselors clash their fleets in battles of shrieking steel-entrained tornados, cannonballs of lightning, and tanks the size of cities. But it’s the joker’s secret that is the most powerful weapon of all…a trigger set by the Salt Mystic herself in myth, to save the world from itself.

For More Information

  • Tearing Down the Statues is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Book Excerpt:
Chapter One:


Although thinner than in previous years, crowds of onlookers still formed to watch the zeppelin shuttles glide softly to dock with the airpark tower, framed beautifully against the jutting mountains. Many of these were sightseers in to see the blooming algae gardens terraced on the gneiss cliffs and which speckled the majestic mountain city. A mildly hallucinogenic algae wine, sana drove the local economy on many levels, but particularly drew speculation investment in the hustling days before a holiday such as this.

A young Recorder stood waiting near the cargo bins, his forehead carrying the lava red and ash black tattoo of his calling. Stepping into place beside him was an awkward and gangly fellow who’d come perhaps not to obtain packages or to greet a traveler, but rather just to see the dirigible up close. His voice was squeaky; and his stomach pouched tightly in a sharp pear shape peeking out from beneath his shirt. A girl who was perhaps his sister, younger than him but attractive and clearly not sharing the young man’s interests, was tagging along reluctantly.

“Daelin, do we really have to do this again? You’re driving me crazy.”

“Won’t take long.”

“You absolutely said that yesterday. I am not spending the rest of the morning staring at balloons again.” She smiled at the Recorder when he glanced at her tan face. He liked that but wasn’t supposed to.

“That’s one of the Corsair class coming in. You can tell by the shape of the nose. This one has some really nice enginework.” He hesitated and hadn’t yet looked at the Recorder’s face, though his tone and volume were certainly intended to solicit agreement or reciprocated enthusiasm. Instead, his eyes lingered on the mooring lines being thrown over black capstans ringing the heights of the docking tower like he was looking at ice cream.

“They used them for evacuations during the war…”

“Big toys, Daelin. Like you’ve got scattered all over your room. Let’s gooooooo.”

The Recorder glanced again at Daelin’s sister, to which she responded by smiling again and rolling her eyes, shaking her head to signal how unfashionable she felt was this conversation.

“You wouldn’t believe the lift capacity this thing has. Look at that on the tail there…” Daelin at that point glanced over as he pointed to ensure the Recorder’s eyes were following him, but at last noticed the Recorder’s forehead, recognizing him for his nature and charge.


The Recorder still hadn’t as yet said anything and remained as quiet while Daelin began to fumble a bit, “I didn’t know you were…”

Daelin still pointed upwards toward the dirigible, but loosely and awkwardly, “It’s got a’s got a hook to connect to others like it. They can make a train. Look, we need to go.”

“That’s it?” The young man’s sister raised her eyebrows at her brother’s discomfort. It wasn’t uncommon, the fear of the Record.

“Yeah, we need to go do some things. Come on. Sorry, okay?”  In a fit of escape, Daelin just turned and started lightly jogging away, glancing around himself trying to appear as if he’d intended to exercise all along and was hard at it now. He called again for his sister when she didn’t leave straight away; and she lingered an apologetic grin and waved as she at last followed her brother. The Recorder watched her leave and then watched the place in the crowd where she had left. He squinted against the morning sun and scratched the back of his head before stepping around the tower to idly watch the stevedores slough packages.

A short line of awaiting passengers stood at the base of another tower, shuffling in position or scanning the top of the stairs for a signal they could board. Colorfully, there was a tiny twig of a boy in a uniform that was yet too big for him with a stuffed duffel bag at his feet and an anxious stare on his face. He was looking into the eyes of someone who might have been his father, leather faced and tattooed on his arms, skinny and traveled, who was giving him guidance on how to behave wherever the boy was going. The Recorder hesitated to absorb the moment.

Sometime later and of greater significance, as often happens in crowds an interesting face had caught his precise attention. With wide eyes and a mad open grin, a spiked shock of chestnut hair, a fellow bending down to leave the shuttle leaned against the black rails atop the airpark tower. It isn’t important to describe all the details of sunlight and time, noises and colors, words said in the buzzing crowds and all, of which the Recorder made note because that is what they do and it goes without saying. What was new was that the strange grinning fellow was looking pointedly at the Recorder’s face. He waved and started down the coal-black graphite stairway in a rush.

It is difficult to explain without describing the aggressive hypnotic and chemical training of a Recorder in their youth, their traditional role in the highest imperial and Warmaster courts, and the deepest integrity and dedication as was core to their collective identity why it was one didn’t simply saunter up to a Recorder and say hi.

“Hi, Jo Jo. I can help you carry something if you like. Say, who is that sculpted up there on the mountain?” The stranger was still grinning as he pointed his thumb to a majestic carved figure of a man on a mountain face overlooking the wide Yagrada valley, sculpted from the rock with an outstretched hand through the rock fingers of which a natural waterfall flowed.

The Recorder tapped his forehead tattoo, “Perhaps you did not notice…”

“Jo Jo, Skipdance, Habilu…whatever. What do you want to be called? My name is Ring. I certainly can’t just call you, ‘Recorder’ – what if another one walks by and I’m trying to talk to you? The carving, man, who is it?”

  Stunned and moving his eyes from the cascade then back to this odd stranger, the Recorder started again.

“This Recorder is waiting on his package, then he is going to leave. It is not appropriate for you to directly address a Recorder in public nor is it seemly to suggest he bear a proper name.”

“Right. Right. So I’ll call you Misling, yes?”  At this, the Recorder’s eyes locked for that was a word he knew well and it had been nuanced correctly. It was a Mast word, a meta-language charged with intricate layers of meaning and one which Recorders used to transfer highly detailed information among themselves such as when they preserved their pool of lives before dying. Ring looked casually down the broad avenue leading toward the awakening marketplace as if he wasn’t aware what he’d just said. 

“Listen, I’m not exactly sure where I am; and you probably know lots of interesting things, so I’ll just go with you.” Ring nodded at the Recorder like he was doling advice on how to remove a stain. The Recorder examined this stranger again at full attention as he had been indoctrinated to do when something potentially of some significance occurred.

“You certainly will not.”

Ring creased his forehead, “You know, you’re a bit of a pain. I mean, you won’t tell me about the mountain face, you’re stuffy; and now you give me grief when I even offer to help you carry your thingie – is this it?”

He leaned into the package chute and lifted a small wooden box the color of barley, sealed with hemp twine, which the stevedores had slid from topside out of the dirigible’s cargo hold. With a final glance to the cascading mountain face, Ring started down the few stairs to the dusty market street leading to Alson’s oldest marketplace, mumbling along the way.

“…so you come across as really pretentious. I mean, I obviously don’t know anybody, you could at least be neighborly and say a few insightful things – maybe comment on my trip or ask where I’m from. Something. It’s obvious you’re getting all feathered up-“

The Recorder, following within earshot, interrupted passionately, “This Recorder is NOT feathered up-“

“Sure you are – and you’re stuffy too. Where are we going?” 

The Recorder trotted quickly alongside Ring and seized the thin box for himself.

“This Recorder is not stuffy nor is he feathered up. You however are impudent and a troublesome busybody. Do you even understand what this means?” He tapped the tattoo on his forehead once again to make a point, the ancient wheels within wheels symbol of the Salt Mystic. 

“I know it isn’t an advanced apology for being rude and stuffy.”

The Recorder huffed before pacing quickly toward the still silent market stalls. Resin automatons the color of thin milk twisted and bent fluidly, mutely arranging fresh vegetables, meats, breads and sana in terraces for display. There were vendors sweeping and talking to neighbors about the day’s prices as the orange sunrise stretched long shadows across the cobblestone courtyard’s masonry and ruined monuments. 

The plaza traditionally exploded with noisy commerce once the market opened; but for the moment it was serene and pleasant with only the sounds of sweeping and murmuring and the bubbling of a ledgestone courtyard fountain. Two small boys and a girl sported around a morbidly obese sculpture commonly called, ‘the market god’, beside which were lanterns and an oak coin box. One of them was whispering into the statue’s ear and giggling, ready to run clasping his own ears and await the first thing he heard said beyond the market’s walls for a fortune or answer.

At the stalls, there was an official of some kind wearing a golden insignia on his linen collar, who was slowly making his way around to each vendor and taking notes as he went. As Ring watched standing alongside the Recorder, he caught that none of the vendors to whom the official had spoken seemed pleased with whatever they’d been told. Two or three actually shouted at the official as he passed.

“Misling, what’s that guy saying?”

The Recorder cast an impatient look, then answered as was his obligation, “He is a market official and a representative of Judge Talgo charged with establishing Alson’s commission rates and the pricing range for the day. Once he has gauged the market, he will update the glass board there and communicate today’s rates and pricing, authorizing the vendors and customers to begin the traditional bidwars.”

“What would happen if I updated his board once he’s gone?” Ring stroked his chin.

“You are not authorized to update the board.” The Recorder paused, no doubt pondering why Ring would even consider such a thing. No doubt, there were an obvious host of overly idealistic reasons that came to mind.

“It would be unhelpful to attempt to cheat the Judge of his commission…” Another pause.

“…or to artificially raise prices to benefit the vendors.” After waiting a moment, watching the official, the Recorder glanced again to Ring to gauge his intentions.

“Or to artificially lower the prices to benefit the people. What is it you are intending?” Ring only nodded absently then changed the subject.

“Are you running an errand? Aren’t you supposed to be consulting for generals and judges and whatnot? What’s that about?”

“This Recorder is property; and the gentleman to whom he has been entrusted requires…upkeep. Please continue along your way.”

The market official perched on a stepladder, erased the frosted glass with a worn cloth, and wrote a series of prices and rates in the boxes using a charcoal pencil hanging from a leather string. He stepped down commandingly and briefly appraised the condition of the marketplace now that he had established the market’s parameters. The sun-worn faces watching him looked bitter and angry at the figures he had set. Murmuring continued even as he raised both arms to signal the market’s opening. This triggered an almost reluctant hurricane of bustle and motion as burly vendors and grocers, restaurateurs and tourists haggled heatedly over produce and meat, long sticks of fresh bread, and lime green bottles of shimmering algae wine. 

The Recorder loosened the twine from his box and cracked it open for a cursory inspection of the contents before advancing into the noisy bidyard. There were tourists along the courtyard’s perimeter, leaned against wrought iron fencing and crumbling stone arches to watch. Ring started laughing, and doing so almost losing his breath. The Recorder’s face showed only indignation.

“There is no self, only the Record”, Ring barely said as he tried to catch his breath from laughing, quoting a Recorder creed and looking at this one as if for the first time again. The Recorder’s voracious attention locked again with surprise.

“That’s bakas jerky, Misling…Salt Flat contraband. You can’t sell that stuff in the mountains.”

The Recorder shushed Ring and readied himself for a task he very clearly did not relish, targeting a set of opposing tables where two earthy rustics were haggling over crates shrouded in thick canvas fabrics. Ring caught his breath, likely with admiration for such disregard of propriety from someone charged with its maintenance. Although a young Recorder might have held as many as five lives in his Pool even at this age, the memories often had not yet unwound or become fully real. It was once an adage of such Recorders to ‘trust them with diplomats, but not with your daughter’.

     Ring touched his brow in a loose salute, wishing the Recorder luck, and started into the busy courtyard, disappearing in the market swarm seeming to ask for alms. The Recorder’s eyes lingered for a moment on the place where Ring had been before inhaling sharply to enter the market.

In only a short while, as the Recorder was stuffing the price he’d garnered for the jerky inside a russet leather satchel, he was one of the first to notice a subtle change in the mood of the crowd, a mean spirit betrayed by angry stares and dying murmurs. Following the stares to the frosted glass board about which Ring had asked, he saw Ring himself wrapped in a linen overshirt with a golden coin attached to the collar and looking from the distance much like a market official with the proper insignia busily updating the prices and rates.

“That’s ridiculous”, someone shouted, for the commissions Ring had falsified for the Judge were exorbitant, more than quintuple what was set before. His price ranges were less than a fourth of the figures he was erasing as he made his way down the board. Not quite to the bottom row, he turned to hold his hands out to the sides and looks at the throng as if asking, ‘what?’. He wasn’t smiling, but rather was feigning formality as he turned to whistle and scribe more night-black figures. When a thrown yellow root smashed against his back, Ring turned to the crowd again and pointed in the direction from which the missile had likely come, looking fierce.  

“Idiot”, someone from the crowd screamed. “We can’t make money at those prices. What’s the Judge doing?”

Ring waved his hand dismissively, scratching the erasing cloth against the figures he’d just written and made a dramatic show that the new lower prices he was writing just then were as a result of the crowd’s questioning him.

“You can’t do that!” 

Once he had raised the Judge’s commission for aged sana sales twice over in retaliation for the market’s rising furor, two miscreants banded together and rushed the frosted glass board to get him. Ring’s eyes widened quickly; and he disappeared again such that the Recorder lost sight of him. As can happen in tense triggered crowds, those looking for a fight started one; and the marketplace bubbled over in chaos with tourists scattering from overturned stalls and madly rolling produce.

“Hi”, Ring surprised the Recorder as he stepped alongside to survey the mess, out of breath and having discarded the linen overshirt and collar. The Recorder’s eyes were somewhat wide; and his deliberate and methodical glances betrayed the highest level of awareness of which a Recorder made use, noting every scent and word, spatial relationships, and faces. As always in such a heightened state, he did so to the extent that even fifty years hence he could recount every detail of this single moment. He was still a young man though; and mischief can be exhilarating.

“Did anyone in there ever see anything like that?” Ring tapped the Recorder’s left temple in reference to the lives in his Pool.

“You are an activist, likely a runaway from the Recorder academy.”

“Not a runaway, no. I’ve never even seen the academy. Is it pretty?”

“Your show here was a hope to force a challenge to the prevailing system which you view as unjust or corrupt, yes?”

Ring creased his forehead in evaluation, “Wow, you’re bad at this. That would have been iconic, though.”

“Did you harm the real market official? Why did he not intervene?”

“I just asked some guys to keep him busy.”

“And they did this just because you asked?”

Ring nodded as if that sort of thing happened to him often. The Recorder pressed further.

“Where did you learn the Mast word you used earlier, its proper nuance, and the Recorder’s creed?”

“Misling, you ask an awful lot of questions for a Recorder. I think that’s great; and we should chat it up; but shouldn’t we kind of…poof?” Ring looked again to the mad courtyard.

“This Recorder is expected at the tent city by midday. He would not object to your joining the walk over while you explain yourself. He has cheese.”

The two young men made their way beyond the market courtyard, passing the green copper domes of old observatories and theaters and the misty fountains of Vangeline park where white furred wanoa still pastured looking like cloud-white shaggy silverbacks. Ring scratched a female wanoa’s head as he looked ponderingly into its violet eyes following the Recorder’s comment that the serene beasts at one time long ago could speak.

“Misling, why do you suppose the people in the market so easily believed I was an official?”  Ring stopped in place as he asked the question, planting his feet firmly on the broad avenue so as not to fall backward while running his eyes up the tall tower called Balcister. Although it officed those engaged in commerce and shadowed artists and street actors in the plaza at its base, the tower’s skyblue masonry hummed softly with information and code. It was the best known building in a cityscape of minarets, slate roofs and walkways, with the exception of Judge Talgo’s cliffside palace, and was the only remaining computronium structure in Alson.

“The confidence with which you approached the task, perhaps...”

“Umm hmm. Guys in this town keep staring me down like I’m supposed to be doing something they’re stuck doing. What am I missing?”

Misling didn’t answer as he watched and listened. Ring waited only a moment.

“You know, you’re miserly with your local color knowledge. You should have been telling me about that waterfall thing this morning; and you could be chatting me up right now about Judge Talgo’s beef with Cassian in the Flats….but I get nothing that I don’t drag from you.”

Misling’s brow creased, “This Recorder is not in your service nor in public service and is required to lecture on nothing. In fact, you did not ask about Marshal Cassian nor the Judge.”

Ring nodded in agreement, “That’s right. That’s right. You could offer though, sort of in the general friendly spirit of our conversation. You knew where I was going with that. Is Alson at war?”

“Alson and the Salt Flat nation are in a cold war, marked by skirmishes and harassment. The mountain military forces are deployed for most of the year, either in forward tank battlegroups in the Salt Flats or in mog or submersible patrols locally and act to defend mountain interests against aggressors.” Misling had answered in dictionary style in an automatic fashion, a prepared statement for Recorders. If asked again, he would repeat himself verbatim.  

“Mm hmmm….” Ring had been idly watching four teenagers chatting in the sidestreet wearing military railgun thigh holsters. Misling stepped towards him impatiently.

“From where have you come?”

“How do you mean?” Ring stepped towards Balcister’s deep blue masonry walls, touching his cheek against the computronium blocks and tapping to discharge the tingling static electricity.

 “Do you know what Misling means? Do you know the Mast language?”

“Sure, sure. Not hard. Mostly a lot of fables.”

“How did you come to study the language? Where were you born?”

Ring looked back to Misling with a mischievous smile, still tapping against the tower. “You know, that’s not strictly true.”

Misling’s left eyebrow lifted questioningly.

“Whether in public service or not, you’re still expected to respond to questions. ‘The day is kept whole for it is laden with treasures.’ You’ve got to share; and all you do is ask me stuff. Who do you have in your Pool?”

Misling thinly hid his irritation at this question, one he was indeed required to answer, “This Recorder maintains the Record of four lives.”

“Interesting; and who are they?” Ring scratched his cheek thoughtfully as if very intrigued by the pending answer. A chalk artist speaking with a businesswoman walked by, casting odd glances at Ring in wonderment at his ongoing conversation with a Recorder. Misling averted his eyes as they passed.

“Duke Exeter of Sarling in the days of the Brewing, Court Poet Phianna in the early days of Naraia, and Under Governors Faring of the Southern Red Witch Annex and Delton of the Fountain City.”

“I have no idea who those people are. Faring sounds familiar. What color were Phianna’s eyes?”

“Gray, and quite bloodshot later in life.”


“Her only son was rebellious.”

“What was the last thing she said?”

“I’d hoped they would stop by today.” His tone was soft and tired, utterly different from how he normally spoke.

“Who was with her when she died?”

“Only a nurse named Tazia, a large woman apparently in a hurry to clean the room afterwards. It was winter; and frosty mud had been tracked about the tile floors.”

“And what did the room smell like? What color were the sheets?”

“The room was cold and smelled of ammonia and iodine. The sheets were thin green linen; and the wool blanket was thin as well. An attendant had brought a bar of compressed lavender which was propped against Phianna’s elbow because she enjoyed the smell. She coughed three times, looked out the window at the snow, then quietly shut her eyes.”

Ring watched Misling’s face for a moment, fascinated. “You didn’t mention the Recorder standing right there in the corner who couldn’t be bothered to put another blanket on the poor woman.”

 “There was no meaningful purpose to your questions apart from diversion from that which this Recorder asked you.”

“That’s not exactly true; but I’ll let it go. Misling, I want you to do me a favor.”

“That would only encourage you.”

“I want you to introduce me to your employer. You freak me out a little, running illegal errands and getting all feathered up like you do.”

“This Recorder was not ‘feathered up’. You will not be continuing with him because you are irrational and nosey. It simply is not the way things are done; and you are neither invited nor welcome to attend.”

Ring chuckled, sidestepping along the wall to the cross-street where he’d earlier seen the idle guards, sliding his fingers over Balcister’s masonry as if he could feel the data of transactions, correspondence, and images. 

“So you’re getting picked up at the tent city, that’s actually perfect. I’ll meet you down there.”

“You will not.” Misling clarified in case there had been some unfortunate confusion.

Ring stood at last at brown, yellow and red graffiti scrawled roughly on Balcister’s very wall, a stylized cartoon of an angry character in a jacket with flaming shoulderboards, a ball lightning carbine strapped to his extended right arm gripped with densely colored hands, and firing madly. It was evidently a boogeyman of some sort and had been the topic of the guards’ chatter.

“Now we’re getting to it…” Ring spoke to himself casually with a grin on his young face, leaning closely in and edging towards the youths whose curious notice he’d drawn.

Birds scattered from the cobbles as Misling stepped away. Years hence to desperate scholars and journalists, Misling would manufacture the backdrop of this moment to disguise the misfortune that he’d simply stopped paying attention as he glanced dismissively and walked past the fog-gray monuments surrounding Balcister.