Dreaming in the Pages

Books ... where dreams are better than reality

Broken Pieces

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Author Interview – Calinda B

Can you share a little of your current work with us? The Beckoning of Beautiful Things

How did you come up with the title? It just came to me, early on.

Can you tell us about your main character? Marissa Engles is an artist. She’s extremely honest, serious, loves her dog, a Doberman named Sober Dober and really wants something different out of life. She craves excitement. She lost her parents to a plane crash when she was 15. She’s hidden away in her world of art ever since. She meets Daniel Navid on the day of her birthday, at age 26. Sparks fly – literally – from her fingers to his. He awakens something strange in her. Turns out she’s a Light Rebel whose abilities were taken away from her at an early age. And Daniel Navid? Turns out he’s a dangerous man. I’ll let you read the book to find out the rest.

How did you develop your plot and characters? I always start with an idea. In this case, the idea had nothing to do with the book itself. It was just a launch pad. Launch I did and the story unfolded as I wrote. I usually aim for some sort of resolution and then just start writing.

Will you write others in this same genre? I’ve already started on the next book, The Beckoning of Broken Things.

How important do you think villains are in a story? Oh, I love a good villain. The villains create conflict and intrigue. Hopefully, they stir emotion in the reader and add tension to the book.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)? I travel in general and yes, it influences the books. I’m an avid scuba diver and travel to some very unique places to dive. Places and situations always factor in my stories.

What are your current writing projects now? As mentioned above, I’m writing The Beckoning of Broken Things. It starts in a mental hospital. That’s all I’m going to say at this moment. My lips are sealed.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Romantic Suspense / Thriller

Rating – R

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Calinda B on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.calindab.com/


Orangeberry Book Tours – The Beckoning of Beautiful Things (The Beckoning Series) by Calinda B

Artist Marissa Engles has hidden in a world of paint and sorrow, ever since her parents died eleven years ago. When she meets Daniel Navid, sparks fly – literally – from her fingers to his. She’s immediately swept from her pristine world into one of terrifying darkness, dazzling, electrifying light, and unimaginable sensual pleasures.
With her faithful Doberman by her side, Marissa uses her creative imagination to restore her Light Rebel skills.

She comes face to face with pure evil – the demented sorcerer known as El Demonio de la Muerte.
El D’s got plans for her. He plans to charm her into forgetting she ever met Daniel Navid, the sexiest, most dangerous man she’s ever known.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Romantic Suspense / Thriller

Rating – R

More details about the author

Connect with Calinda B on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.calindab.com/

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Adele Park – Book Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

Book Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

by Adele Park

You’ve written a book, now what?  Even if you’re lucky enough to have a publisher, the onerous of marketing still rests on your shoulders.  Fortunately, you don’t have to launch expensive media campaign to get the word out about your book.  The internet is loaded with low cost or free programs designed to help writers connect with potential readers.

Many of today’s business gurus advocate blogging as a means of keeping readers engaged and interested in their work.  Blogs are a great way to “tie in” to news events relevant to the subject of your book.  Readers can easily give feedback to your posts which can start a conversation or lively debate.  Better still, blogs are a simple way to update or refresh the pitch for your book.  Here are a couple of free blog programs to try:  Blogger www.blogger.com and WordPress www.wordpress.com.

Word of mouth continues to be one of the best ways to spread a message.  New radio stations are appearing on the internet every day.  Many of the personalities on these stations are interested in writers, especially those who offer books in a genre compatible with their format.  One of the easiest ways to find out which stations are looking for guests is through Radio Guest List.com www.radioguestlist.com.  Writers can even start their own radio station for free by using BlogTalkRadio www.blogtalkradio.com.

If you would like to add video or links to your audio, this can easily be accommodated through  podcasting.  You can launch your own program where writers and readers gather at a central location to exchange ideas.  As with internet radio, there are also a number of free podcasting sites including Podomatic www.podomatic.com.

Don’t forget:  video is a very effective way to promote your book.  In the past, if writers wanted to give readers a visual on their story, they faced expensive production costs combined with pricy TV ad rates.  Now, practically everyone has access to a video camera so you can shoot your own promo and air it for free on sites like these: YouTube www.youtube.com and Daily Motion www.dailymotion.com

Does your book addresses an issue that is currently being discussed in the news or trending on social media?  If so, pitch your angle through a press release.  Tailor your release to match the interests of specific readers and increase the chance of media outlets picking up on it.  Here are some free services to check out: Free Press Release.com www.free-press-release.com and Newswire Today.com www.newswiretoday.com.

Another way to attract national attention is to enter book contests.  Even if your work isn’t selected as a winner, at least you will gain some exposure from experts in the book industry.  Try the National Book Foundation for novels www.nationalbook.org or the Audie Awards from the Audio Publishers Association for audio books www.audiopub.org.

Don’t forget to cross promote your internet marketing efforts.  Use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked In to draw attention to blog posts, internet radio interviews, and upcoming podcasts.  Covering all the bases available on the internet will increase your visibility and help you to make contact with readers all over the world!

YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPotQyyPsuo&feature=g-upl


Buy Now @ Audible

Genre – Comedy / Satire

Rating – R (language & theme)

More details about the book

Connect with Adele Park on Facebook

Blog http://adeleparkquirkyaudiobooks.blogspot.com/

Website http://www.yikesaudiobook.com/

Review: The Beckoning of Beautiful Things (The Beckoning Series, #1) by Calinda B.

The Beckoning of Beautiful Things (The Beckoning Series, #1)The Beckoning of Beautiful Things by Calinda B.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Favourite character(s) … This is a cross between Marissa, Sober Dober and Daniel. If I truly had to pick one it would be Marissa, she is so lost and expected to learn so much in just a few days.

What did you think of the ending? I liked how the author wrapped everything up, but I wonder if she left a tiny opening so there can be another book and create a series.

What is the time period in which the book happens? No exact time period is offered by the author but readers assume it is modern times, with talk about computers, airplanes, and Marissa being a graphics artist.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.

View all my reviews

Friday, May 10, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day – After the Ending by Lindsey Pogue & Lindsey Fairleigh (Excerpt)


“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…It has no survival value, rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

-C. S. Lewis

March 15, 1 AE (from the journal of Danielle O’Connor)

If someone had told me three months ago that 90 percent of the people in the world were about to die, I would’ve laughed. If someone had told me the survivors would develop unbelievable Abilities, I would’ve called them crazy. If someone had told me I’d find love with the least likely person, I would’ve rolled my eyes. And if someone had told me that, after everything, the people I cared about most would be torn from my grasp, I would’ve walked away.

I wish I could walk away now.




Cringing, I glared at the stinging, red paper cut on the tip of my index finger and muttered, “Damn hand sanitizer.” I’d always been a fan of good old-fashioned soap and water, and I was irked that my dissertation advisor had forced the slimy, astringent goop into my hands when I’d left his office.

Unfortunately, the compulsory germ-killing reminded me of Callie, my pathetically sick roommate. I’d driven her to the campus clinic first thing that morning. She’d been sitting on our couch in pajama bottoms and a purple pea coat, mumbling, “I’m going to the doctor right now…just give me a second…,” and staring at the floor. I’d immediately hustled her out to the car and zipped her to the doctor.

“It’s just a bad case of the flu, I’m sure,” the doctor had claimed, barely perceptible worry tightening her eyes.

Callie’s ashen coloring had been troubling, but not as much as the doctor’s instruction to take her to the hospital if her condition worsened…like the other sick students…dozens of them. I couldn’t believe a flu outbreak was forcing so many healthy people into the hospital. It wasn’t like we lived in a third world country or something.

The handful of students missing from my morning study group only intensified my concern—a handful is a lot when there are only eleven students to begin with. As I cleared the last crosswalk on the way back home, being careful to avoid the puddles left by the morning rain, I wondered if the outbreak would end up being as deadly as the Spanish flu was nearly a century ago.

I shook my head, dispelling my unusually grim thoughts. It’s just the flu, I told myself for the hundredth time. She’ll be fine. They all will.

As I entered my turn-of-the-century brick apartment building, I distracted myself with thoughts of how incongruous the classy exterior was with the 1980s-remodeled interior. The décor was tragic—pastel and gold foil abstract art hung on the walls, and the carpet was a tacky combination of mauve, coral pink, and faded turquoise…and that was just the beginning. The apartments themselves included worn blue carpet—no doubt covering handsome hardwood—stained linoleum, and appliances with chipped plastic. Such a waste…this place could be exquisite. But, at least the rent’s low…

I walked to my ground floor apartment, unlocked the door, and shifted my computer bag to brace myself for the impending “happy Jack attack.” Except when I opened the door, it didn’t come.

“Jack?” I called out, curious.

Following his whimpered response, I found the 120-pound, adolescent German Shepherd staring forlornly at Callie’s closed bedroom door.

“Hey, Sweet Boy,” I said, crouching down to scratch his shoulders and to let him sniffle my neck. “She probably just wants to sleep. Want a treat?

Jack wagged his way into the kitchen while I quickly peeked into my roommate’s bedroom. Inside, Callie snored softly as she slept. She’s fine.

After rewarding Jack’s amazing abilities to sit (“sit”), shake hands (“nice to meet you”), and play dead (“bang”), I plopped down on my bed and opened my laptop. Jack hopped up and settled in next to me, causing a bed-quake.

Cam, my adorable boyfriend, wouldn’t get home from work for another half hour. Rubbing Jack’s velvety ear, I decided to write a nice long email to my best friend, Zoe—she hadn’t answered when I’d called during my walk home nor had she responded to my texts. The woman worked like crazy, and we hadn’t chatted in days. Besides, writing to her would kill time and help me avoid doing anything productive on my birthday. Genius.

Date: December 4, 4:30 PM

From: Danielle O’Connor

To: Zoe Cartwright

Subject: Birthday Heresy

Zo! I can’t believe we’re apart on a birthday. It’s practically heretical! Thank you SO much for the amazing drawing...it’s totally perfect. I can’t believe how many details you remembered from that night. Cam was super impressed too.

Anyway, how was your date with Mr. 58 (or was it Mr. 85)? You promised to give me juicy details, but alas, I’ve heard nothing from my wayward Zo. It was the blonde guy, right? Or was that the last one? Gah…I can’t keep up. Give me an ooey-gooey, nitty-gritty description of EVERYTHING. Please.

On a totally different note, the flu is getting pretty bad over here. Is it bad in Salem too? This morning I took Callie to the doctor, and Zo, I’m really worried about her. She’s so pale and weak—a soft gust of wind might send her tumbling. Actually, she looks just like you did when you had that H1N1 virus a few years ago. The doctor told us she’s seen dozens of cases of this flu virus over the past week. Looks like another little outbreak. Cam’s been making soup for Callie…he’s so sweet. Besides, his cooking is a gazillion times better than whatever I’d conjure up. My food might make her feel worse…

So…I’m sure you want to know about tonight’s birthday plans. Cam (sigh, drool) is taking me to his restaurant and then to that Irish pub—you know, the one where you had too many Long Islands and danced on the table... Anyway, Cam said he invited “everyone we know” to the pub. But, considering that over half of Seattle seems to be sick, I’m guessing less than a dozen people will show. Whatever…I’m just excited to get out and have some fun. 

Oh…gotta go...Cam just got home and is harping on me to get changed for dinner. I guess soggy jeans aren’t classy enough. I’ll give you a recap of the birthday night tomorrow, assuming I’m not too hungover to open my eyes.


We’d been at the pub for several hours when Jamie’s pink, designer stiletto jabbed my shin. “Did you hear about that student who died today?” she asked.

My food and alcohol-induced semi coma receded momentarily, allowing me to process her eager words. Always the drama queen, that Jamie. She never knew when to keep her mouth shut, so we constantly butted heads.

Sighing, I grumbled, “What are you talking about?” The question was a concession I hated but needed to make. I had to know; it was too juicy to pass up.

“Ohhhh…so you don’t know.” Jamie’s eyes narrowed with vindictive pleasure.

Not for the first time that night, I mentally cursed Cam for inviting her. “Evidently not,” I replied dryly.

“Yeah.” Her chest heaved with delight as she explained, “some undergrad died of the flu. You know, the one that everyone has right now. You do at least know about that, right? So now people are dying from it. Doesn’t Callie have it too?”

Hateful bitch, I thought viciously. I’d never really liked Jamie, and my concern about Callie clouded my judgment, along with the three vodka tonics and the glass of Champagne. “You’re a hateful bitch,” I retorted.

The statement earned shocked stares from several of the young Seattleites sitting around the corner booth, including Cam. But I wasn’t done. For days I’d been worrying about Callie, and stupid Jamie had just implied the worst. She’ll be okay. It’s just the flu.

With a sickly sweet smile I cooed, “Callie’s doing much better, thanks for asking. But you, Jamie…you’re looking quite pale. Are you sick? Or, have you just had too much to drink? You do at least know about your reputation as a lush, right?”

A growing silence encompassed our table. As I opened my mouth to continue, Cam interceded. “Let’s get a drink, D,” he said through gritted teeth.

I was quickly ushered out of the booth by his firm grasp. His unusual forcefulness was more than a small turn on, and suddenly, I was really looking forward to returning home with him. 

By the time Cam and I left the pub, the confrontation with Jamie was nearly forgotten. We entered our apartment, eager to reach our bedroom, and noticed that Callie’s bathroom light was on. When I went to turn it off, much to my shock, I found my roommate curled up on the tile floor. The air was thick with the rank smell of vomit. Oh my God…

I fell to my knees beside Callie and turned her onto her back. She was burning hot and coated in sweat. Jack, curled up next to her, kept nuzzling her cheek and watching her face for a response. There was none.

While we’d been out eating, drinking, and being generally merry, Callie had vomited what looked like all of her insides into the toilet. I stared at my friend’s non-responsive form, unable to move for several long seconds. And then I started panicking.

“Callie! Callie, wake up!” I implored, nudging her gently. She didn’t respond. I shook her harder, watching her sway like a rag doll. She looked so pale, so young. “Cam! We have to take her to the hospital!” I screeched. When I looked behind me for Cam’s unfailing support, I found him on the phone. He was repeating our address. Oh…9-1-1…I should’ve thought of that.

“Thanks,” he said, ending the call. “They’ll be here in fifteen or twenty minutes,” he told me.

“But, she’s…,” I began but didn’t know how to finish. Sick? Comatose? Dying?

“I know, D, but they said it’s an unusually busy night,” Cam said, filling two glasses with water from the kitchen tap. “They’ll get here as fast as they can.”

When the paramedics finally arrived, Cam had to pry me from my prostrate position beside my unconscious friend to give the emergency crew enough room to help her. We followed the ambulance to the hospital and watched as Callie was rushed through the emergency room and into a restricted area. FAMILY ONLY, read the sign taped to the door. All we could do was sit…wait.

As I looked around, my mind returned to a mostly-sober state. I wasn’t in an emergency room waiting area but a stifling, body-packed cage. People crowded in on all sides, milling, mumbling, mourning. They all looked sick. Hundreds of them. Shouldn’t the hospital be taking care of these people? What if they infect me? Infect us?

Cam sat beside me, holding my hand. He looked just as ill as everyone else in the crowded room. What if he is sick? Like Callie…oh God…like the guy who died…

The air grew perceptibly hotter and viscous. Clammy chills consumed my body. Stay calm…stay calm…stay calm…

Hours passed, and then I saw her. I recognized the silky blonde hair and pink stilettos. Jamie. You’re a hateful bitch, my words replayed in my head.

I watched as they wheeled her through the stuffy room, unconscious. Just like Callie. I’d been honest in my earlier assessment of her; she really had looked ill. You’re a hateful bitch.

Jamie disappeared through the same metal doors as Callie had. FAMILY ONLY. Medical staff and unconscious patients were the only people who’d passed through them. So far, only the medical staff had returned.

Desperately, I looked at Cam, hoping he could somehow give me the air my lungs couldn’t seem to capture. But he appeared ready to pass out, completely unaware of my emotional flailing. Zoe, I thought, I need you!


TO: Zo

Callie’s in the ER. She’s in a coma. Cam and I came in with her a little after 2AM. Been here for hours, but the docs still haven’t told us anything. Worst birthday ever. Wish you were here.

December 5, 6:00 AM

TO: Zo

BTW, I’ll call Grams in a bit to check on everyone back home. How are YOU feeling? Me? I’m freaking out…

December 5, 6:04 AM

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Science Fiction

Rating – R

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Lindsey Pogue & Lindsey Fairleigh on Facebook & Twitter

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Dissolution of Peace by Richard Flores IV (Excerpt)

Chapter 1

Janice Kanter was mesmerized by the size of the warship as it blocked the view of the stars through the window of the runabout. She knew the ship was big, but to see the size of it now, even at this distance, was awe inspiring. The Navy had nicknamed these warships “flying bricks” because of their shape and size. The name was accurate; it appeared to be a giant grey brick floating in space.

              As the runabout circled the warship awaiting clearance to land, the details became more apparent. The flight deck could be seen below the engines. The hull was speckled with cannon slots. How many guns did a ship in a peaceful navy need? The bridge dome was to the top front, large letters read “E.S.S. Australia.”

              The approach to the flight deck reminded her of her hatred for space flight. She looked away from the window to the crewman sitting next to her. He turned away quickly. She wasn’t sure if he was checking her out or staring because of her uniform. It was probably the latter.

              She was the only one wearing it on the runabout filled with Navy Crewmen. Her dark grey uniform, with its black accents, contrasted with the tan Navy uniforms. It was more than simple difference that caught their eye. It was what the uniform symbolized: Law Enforcement.

              She smiled at the crewman when he turned to glance at her again. A stray hair contrasted with the Earth on her arm patch and she dusted it off. The image of the planet spread out like an atlas, was the only color on the dark uniform. Its blues and g reens highlighted by the black background of the circle patch. The word “Security” along the top and “Forces” on the bottom labeled her. The crewman turned away again.

              “Do you ever get used to space flight?” Janice said to the man. “I hate it.”

              “I don’t know. This is my first assignment.” He smiled only out of pleasantries. “They tell me you don’t even notice you’re moving on a ship that size.”

              “I hope so.” Janice turned back to the window. She could see the rapidly growing size of the flight deck. The sheer size of the opening made her feel as if she was being swallowed by a beast. She sunk in her seat, realizing they were landing.

              Being in space was bad enough. She really hoped she could get used to it. The reality was she just didn’t like this assignment. She had only gone to Protective Services training because it was made clear to her that she couldn’t promote without a specialty assignment. She planned for a six month assignment protecting some Governor. Not a military assignment and certainly not a space assignment. It would be at least a year before she could go back to patrol.

The shuttle surged forward as it hit the deck. She swallowed hard to hide her reaction. As soon as the light turned on she unhooked her restraints and made her way to the ramp in the middle of the shuttle.  She was glad all her belongings were sent up ahead of her. She was halfway down the ramp before it contacted the deck.

Janice started making her way to the back of the flight deck, when someone yelled at her. She turned around quickly to see a man in the same uniform as her pointing her way.

“Hey, get over here.” His stern face made Janice pause. “Yes you. Where are you going?  You’re holding up the rest of the people.”

“What?” Janice walked over.

“Everyone boarding the ship has to be checked in.” He made no effort to hide his annoyance.  He pulled out a small device no bigger than the palm of his hand, a chip scanner.

“Even us?” Janice moved her hair from the back of her neck.

“This must be your first military assignment.” The man’s face softened and there was a bit less aggregation in his tone. He scanned the back of her neck and read over the screen. “Everyone is checked in and out, no matter what branch or how long their stay will be. Anyway, your orders check out. Corporal Carlson has asked you to meet him over there.”

Janice surveyed the area he gestured to. At the far side of the bay stood a man in a dress uniform, which really just included a tie. That was her new partner. A Corporal even, Janice wished she’d read the orders better.

As she approached him, he put out his hand. She shook it firmly. “You must be Corporal Carlson. You didn’t have to meet me here.”

“Mike is fine. And I just came back from a couple weeks shore leave.” He turned. “Follow me. It’s much quieter once we get off the flight deck.”

Carlson was a tall man, even with Janice’s height. Dark black hair was trimmed within regulations but was hardly the typical high and tight that most wore. He was thin, but just a hint of muscle could be seen on his arms. He wasn’t all that attractive, but he wasn’t ugly either.

As they stepped through the doorway, Carlson spoke. “There much better. Welcome to the Australia. She is a good ship and the captain is a good person to work for. Better than most captains to protect. Or so I have been told.”

“Youngest Commanding Officer in the fleet, too.” Janice moved up next to Carlson.

“Ah, so you did read some of the file then.” Carlson seemed to be judging Janice with his eyes, she was sure it was because she was new to this. She only nodded in response. “Good. She’s smart and deserves to be in command.”

The interior of ship’s walls were a nondescript blue, much like a cubical. Screens were near every major junction and the lighting was really good. Janice had worried that working in space would be dark and depressing, this was the opposite.

She noticed a lot of people moving around the ship, a lot more people than she thought she would see on a naval ship. The crew compliment must have been large. That information was probably listed in the orders she’d barely read.

“You didn’t have to get dressed up for me.” Janice broke the silence. When Carlson gave her a puzzled look, she flashed a quick smirk to show she was kidding.

Carlson turned and studied the floor in front of him. “I attended an officer’s funeral today. I arrived back on the ship in the runabout before yours.”

“Oh,” Janice studied Carlson’s reaction. “If I may ask, was it your old partner?”

“No,” Was that a trace of anger she saw in his eyes. Carlson changed the subject. “You were quite the star at the academy. Top marksman with the L-pistol, third with the rifle. Top in your class on academics and second best in physical fitness.”

Janice really wished she had read up on Carlson more, hell she wished she read anything about him. Why was he talking about her time at the academy anyway? That was years ago. “Yeah.”

“Yet, you barely passed Protective Services training. Fourth from the bottom.”

Janice didn’t like having that pointed out to her. She could have, and should have, done better. “And now you’re stuck with me.”

“I picked you.” Carlson looked her over again. “I asked for records, not names or descriptions.”

“And why do you want the fourth from the bottom?”

“There are two reasons most people join Protective Services. They either want to protect the Prime Minister,” Carlson stopped at a hallway. “Or they just want an easy specialty so they can return to patrol and promote.”

“You think you got me figured out then, is that it?” Janice spoke with a controlled tone. Who was this Corporal to analyze her records and make a judgment about her? And why did it bother her that he was right?

“I am not sure about that,” Carlson said. He activated a screen at the intersection. “This screen will show you a map of the ship. Your stuff should be in your quarters. Our first shift is tomorrow night, third watch. See you then.”

Janice watched him walk away. Space work, a smartass corporal for a partner, and graveyard work. This was going to be a long year.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Science Fiction

Rating – PG13 to R (Language)

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Richard Flores IV on Facebook & Twitter

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day – The Symbolon (The Sibylline Trilogy) by Delia Colvin (Excerpt)


653 B.C. Carrara

Alex stirred sleepily and opened his eyes. He shook his head in mild amusement; even in her sleep she needed to possess him! Kristiana was lying naked, except for the long crystal that was strung on a leather cord and permanently bound around her neck. Her soft body, with its delicious curves, straddled his, as her arms and legs wrapped around him in ownership. She was beautiful, he had to admit. Her curves, along with her sexual appetites, were intoxicating, taking him to pleasures he had only previously imagined.

To have lived his long existence without the secret knowledge of a woman…then to feel Kristiana alive in his arms, and to make love to her, was extraordinary! It was a welcome distraction from the previous 500 years of extreme loneliness and devastation that had been his life.

Mani and Melitta had been right; it wasn’t good for Alex to spend his life mourning. Cassandra was dead and gone and nothing could be done about it. Alex was immortal and would live forever…and his soul mate, his symbolon, was gone.

And if, in fact, he would live forever, he had to find something more in his life! As Mani had said, Alex had been gifted with immortality for a reason. Still, it struck him as unjust that he should have survived the drowning. Over the years, he had continued to believe that the gods would smile on him and bring Cassandra back…somehow. But now it really was time to find some way, impossible as it seemed, to move on.

Melitta had told Alex that the first step to a new life was for him to at least attempt to be distracted by something other than Cassandra. He had tried. But it seemed that any activity that didn’t include thoughts of her were wrought with a never-ending grief.

Once, he went an entire year without sculpting or painting her. He had kept his mind engrossed in the precarious task of climbing the great mountains north of his home. This was an enterprise that should have occupied his mind completely but several times, during the night, despite his exhaustion, he had caught himself beginning to draw her face in the ground.

He almost held his breath as he counted down the final days of the year. On the last night, he didn’t sleep. He sat perched, waiting for the sun to crest the mountains. Then, leaving behind all of his supplies, he ran possessed by the need to see and touch the paintings and sculptures that were all that he had left of her.

He wondered what was wrong with him. How could a woman that he barely knew, except for his visions of her and their brief time together as children, affect him even after all these years? But thankfully now, because of Kristiana, thoughts of Cassandra had become only a dull ache in his heart. He tried to shake off the melancholy that had become his constant companion over the years.

Trying to convince Kristiana that he was not the man for her had been a challenge equivalent to convincing a hungry lioness that a bleeding lamb would cause her indigestion. Once her sights were set, she persevered regardless of the cost! He knew it was a tremendous hardship on her to be married to a man that seemed only capable of loving a memory, but she felt certain that she could make him love her. And her physical efforts were certainly proof of that, he thought with a wry smile.

Kristiana’s long bronze hair spilled over most of her face. He brushed it back, noticing the occasional gold strands, from their time in the sun. The honeymoon had been fairly brief—only a month, too short from her perspective, too long from his. Alex was not an idle man and now that rendering artistic representations of Cassandra were no longer appropriate he struggled to find worth.

Still Kristiana seemed happy and her insecurities were reasonable considering that he was still obsessed with his Cassandra. During their first sculpting lessons, three years prior, Kristiana had tried to get him to sculpt someone or something else. He had explained to her that he was there only for Cassandra, and if Kristiana wasn’t able to help him with that, he would find another tutor. With the sizable remuneration he was paying her for her services, Alex knew that Kristiana could not afford to turn him down. He was certain that she had been hurt, but she needed to know the truth.

It had never been his intention to lead her along and he often thought that he should have refused to marry her. But after that early June evening he had agreed, not out of the joy of new love, but to resolve her desperate need for him and his desperate need to have something in his life other than grief.

Their courtship, if it could be considered that, had begun recently, after three years of Kristiana’s constant flirtations. She had asked him to join the townspeople at her home to celebrate the sale of one of her sculptures. When he arrived, it was evident that he was the only guest…and her dress suggested that no one else was invited. Alex decided that he should leave. But she begged him to stay. Of course, he knew that she had not invited anyone else. The men and boys in town would have flocked in had they been asked. Kristiana had offered Alex a drink and he sipped it. When she began to dance provocatively, he told her it was time for him to leave. Alex stood and realized that he was incapable of walking. That was all he remembered.

The next morning he awoke, stunned to find that they were both naked in her bed. Kristiana arose, almost covering herself with a blanket, and spoke of Alex’s promises and seduction the night before.

He knew it was all a lie but watching her, despite his headache, he felt something other than grief. It certainly wasn’t love. He knew she was not to be trusted. There were rumors around Carrara that she could cast spells and Alex had suspected that her interest in growing and blending various herbs was not purely medicinal. However, it was the first time in 500 years that he had been distracted by other thoughts.

He felt a touch of exhilaration at the possibility that he could enjoy life. And frankly, he had been flattered by her efforts. Within minutes, Kristiana’s brother burst through the door—no doubt to witness the impropriety. Paolo stomped through the room, insisting that Alex had taken advantage of his poor sister and demanded that the pair marry. Alex had difficulty containing his snickers at her brother’s sanctimonious shock as Paolo was known for his legions of sexual exploits! And although Alex was quite certain that nothing had happened, he ensured that there was no further question of his conduct while they discussed what the future might hold.

Despite his attempts to convince Kristiana that she should marry someone else, she had no doubt that he would eventually love her. And perhaps she was right. It wouldn’t be the same as his love for Cassandra—a connection and love that he could only have with his symbolon. But perhaps he could have something that, it appeared, he could never have with Cassandra—a life.

Even after the wedding, Alex’s obsession continued to be like a burr under the saddle to Kristiana. During their honeymoon she had insisted on seeing his home, Morgana. He knew that despite what he had told her, she expected far more than the simplicity that he preferred…and he had warned her! She had been shocked to find the simple shack that had been built by his father. Of course, he had fortified the structure with more modern enhancements but Kristiana was stunned into a rare silence to see its contents; almost every open space was occupied by artworks of Cassandra.

Still, he felt that Kristiana had handled it better than expected. She had merely asked what he would do with them now that they were married…and refused to sleep there. And she did that all without breaking a single thing, Alex recalled, with some relief! Before leaving, she asked him if he would torch the shack along with his tribute to Cassandra. It had never occurred to him that Kristiana would want his centuries of work destroyed. Alex had tried to reason with her and hoped that she would understand that this was his life’s work. But in truth, to destroy it would be like killing Cassandra and that, he could not do. In order to maintain their marital bliss, Alex had agreed that they would return to Carrara and build a home that would be more to Kristiana’s liking.

Watching her sleep, Alex realized that even now she appeared to be scheming. Then she drew a deep breath and stretched, pushing the long, clear crystal around her neck into him. He reached over to move it and she jumped up now wide awake, her eyes alarmed. She snatched the pendant from his fingers then seeing his surprise she relaxed and gave him a sensual smile as her mouth moved to his.

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Genre – Paranormal

Rating – PG

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Website http://www.deliacolvin.com/

Here Among Us by Maggie Harryman (Excerpt 1)

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – R (Strong language, adult themes)

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November, 2007

Chapter One

“I know that ma’am. I apologize.”

“I understand but do you understand what I’m saying?” she had asked, managing to avoid the tiny voice in the back of her head that chirped, “why do you care?” It was obvious that the driver didn’t care. He had grinned wide, directed a third apology to Didi and placed her bag directly into her hands. Flynn’s was left in the street. Didi, already a beauty at sixteen—even if Flynn wasn’t quite sure what she thought of the pierced nose and brow business—had returned a radiant smile, calmly taken her things and walked off as though she were traveling alone, inwardly tsk, tsking her mother for her complete inability to let anything go. Of course Didi was right. And when Flynn tipped the driver and hurried to follow her through the terminal doors, trying to keep her daughter’s vibrant red hair in her sights, not for the first time she thought of the joke that God had played sixteen years ago by making her the mother and Didi the child. She made a silent vow to try harder.

She kept that vow for all of twenty seconds, annoyed next to the point of near spontaneous combustion with her raincoat. She had wanted to buy a new coat but instead opted to save the money, making do with the drab beige Macintosh, a gift from her mother at least ten Christmases ago. Finally located in the bowels of the under staircase closet, besides two torn pockets, it bore the distinctive marking of their old dog, Fudge’s, incontinent bladder near the hem. Another solid hour had been spent trying to clean it, although she imagined now that she smelled of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide and the acrid comingling of scents that wafted up brought to mind the injustice of it all—how could she find herself unemployed and so strapped for cash that she hesitated to invest in a proper winter coat? At her age, with her education and talents? It was infuriating.

Catching up to Didi on the check-in line and parking the suitcase she’d haphazardly stuffed with what seemed like every article of clothing she owned, Flynn imagined things could be worse, although she couldn’t think how. Even her suitcase zipper looked strained and angry. Next to her, Didi smiled sweetly as an elderly couple blathered on about their excitement at visiting New York. The wife was still beautiful and fully made up for her trip. Her husband, bent and rough shaven, hung on her every word like a besotted school boy. Flynn found his devotion annoying and the moment the couple was called to the counter, she tapped Didi’s shoulder. Some bitter, albeit justified complaining about being dragged to New Jersey for the long Thanksgiving weekend would definitely hit the spot.

“All I’m saying is why can’t we talk about it over the phone? Why do I have to go all the way to New Jersey?”

The ticket agent at the counter yelled, “Next,” and Didi marched up, lifting hers and then her mother’s bag onto the scale.

“Maybe Aunt Maeve’s right,” Didi said. “Something could be up with Nanny.” She turned then and whispered under her breath, “whether you want to admit it or not.” The agent looked up.

“E-x-c-u-s-e me?” she said.

“Nothing,” Didi answered, suddenly flustered. The woman was a giant with dreadlocks pulled back into a thick ponytail and perfect honey skin. She wore a plastic turkey on her vest with red, white and blue airline wings. “Did anyone pack your bags for you?” she asked. Her tone dared them to answer yes.

“No,” Flynn said, before turning to Didi to defend herself. “Really Deeds? Is that fair? You know I have no problem admitting things. And I know one thing—your grandmother is a battleaxe. Sure, maybe she forgets a bit, but who doesn’t? She’s seventy-four for Christ’s sake. Does that mean I have to spend five days with Maeve to discuss it? Because the Queen claps her hands and says bring on the dancing girls?”

Didi sighed, accepting the boarding passes from the agent who yelled, “Next,” even before they had collected their things.

“What’s the sigh for?” Flynn asked, following Didi onto the security line.

“Nothing,” Didi said, offering up her passport. “Everything is as it should be.”

A small man with thick glasses waited while Flynn produced her driver’s license and then shoved it into her pocket. The line shifted but went nowhere and Flynn eyed Didi, taking in a few fading freckles that peppered the perfect slant of her nose and the red ringlets that fell around her neck. It pained Flynn to remember that not so long ago, she would not have hesitated to kiss that neck. Now, Didi was drifting away, spending more and more time with friends and talking incessantly about going away to college. Recently she’d returned from a trip to India with her father, Flynn’s ex-husband, Roger. She’d changed on that trip, although Flynn had yet to put her finger on the essence of that change.

Flynn grabbed a grey bin and handed one to Didi. Everything is as it should be? Bullshit, Flynn thought but monitoring herself said, “What should be is me finding a firm that will hire me for what I was making—more in fact—not spending money I don’t have to fly to New Jersey. Did I mention the three brutal snow storms due in the next five days?”

Didi ignored her mother, took off her boots and threw them into the bin. Down the concourse, Flynn recognized a chain of wine bars she used to frequent all the years she had taken evening flights to LA. A few 5 o’clock chardonnays before a flight had always been just what the doctor ordered to deal with the enormous egos of her professional athlete clients. But big as they were, not a one was any match for her sister, Maeve. Oh how she thirsted for a crisp chardonnay. Too bad it was barely ten, a little early for a glass of wine—even for her. Flynn walked through the security scanner behind Didi and when the alarm bell sounded, she stepped back and calmly began to empty her pockets. At least there was some good news. Once the plane hit cruising altitude, it would be happy hour in the friendly skies.

On board, Flynn took the window seat. The captain had already announced that a storm in the Midwest was heading east and although he sounded confident they could outrun it, Flynn felt more in control if she could see the giant engines were still spinning. There was another reason too, one that she had never admitted to a living soul, not even Didi. Ever since she was a girl, she’d taken the window seat, imagining that her father was out there in the clouds. Where she’d gotten such a strange notion, she had no idea only that it had become a habit so ingrained in her psyche she might as well have been born searching the white nothing of 30,000 feet. But regardless of the futility, in hundreds of flights since her eighth grade trip to DC, she’d never stopped looking, had never seen him again since the night he’d died when she was seven. Despite psychics and channelers and all sorts of crazies who told her he was there, watching over her, he had never so much as appeared in a dream.

When they’d completed their ascent, she checked her Blackberry, hoping for word from the headhunter. Nothing but a brief voice mail from Harvey Brick, the managing partner at the law firm where she’d practiced the past eleven years. It was Harvey who had sprung the guillotine. “We’ve been fired, too,” he said, explaining that the firm’s largest client, a global entertainment conglomerate for which Flynn had handled professional and college level coaches and athletes had dropped their firm. Cry me a fucking river, she’d thought, tuning the rest out. One thing was for sure. Getting fired had been the single most devastating moment of her adult life. Six months later she still had no job to speak of and old, bald Harvey wondered how she was? Delete.

She closed her eyes. A baby cried two seats ahead and she remembered all the early years of traveling east with Didi and all the painful ears and accompanying tears as the plane climbed into the sky. She watched as a man in the seat in front of her summoned the flight attendant and asked if there was anything that could be done to silence the child. What an asshole, Flynn thought and kicked his seat the moment the attendant disappeared and then smiled sweetly when he turned to offer her an evil glare. The plane shuddered and she pulled out her book and opened it to keep from imagining the worst. Then, unable to read, put down the book and closed her eyes again, reaching for Didi’s hand. The soft pad of her palm was instantly available and Flynn thought again of her words.

“Everything is as it should be?” Flynn repeated aloud. “What does that actually mean?”

Still holding her hand, Didi pulled her earplugs. She looked at her mother and smiled that angelic smile that always made Flynn wonder how she and Roger, two fairly standard issue humans, had produced such exquisite beauty.

“It means that the universe will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.”

Flynn would have laughed had the plane not lurched forward and the fasten seat belt sign, only off briefly in the first hour, flashed on. She’d never even considered unfastening her belt. Instead, her mind flew immediately to that painful place where it most frequently dwelled: six months of pounding the pavement and hundreds of resumes later and still no work.

“Anybody ever get the wrong experience?” she asked and then, not waiting for the answer, “because it would be my luck to get the wrong experience. You know like those old jokes about how God was giving out noses and you thought he said hoses…” her voice trailed off. “Well I can’t remember the rest, but you get the drift.”

Didi’s smile widened. At least sometimes she still thought her mother was funny, or more likely just pathetically out of touch. Like tweeting and sexting and when Fergie joined the Black Eyed Peas, it was just another chasm of life experiences impossible to cross. Of course Didi was entirely too good to draw attention to the gap.

“I understand why you might think that, but it’s not possible. That’s just not how the universe works.”

Again the plane bucked, this time dropping precipitously and a general gasp went out through the cabin.

“Oh really?” Flynn said. “Why don’t you tell me how it does work then?”

Flynn hadn’t intended to sound so angry but it was too late. Didi pulled her hand away. “The universe only gives us exactly what we need,” she said, already reaching to replace her earphones. “This is the experience you’re having at this moment. The one you need in order to evolve. You have to trust that.”

Trust. The only thing Flynn trusted these days was the check she received every month from her 17% ownership in her family’s restaurant business. Over the years, it had grown into a nice chunk of change and since Flynn was a saver, for most of those years the money from the three restaurants her mother still owned in New Jersey had been put away for Didi’s education. Lately she’d been waiting by the mail like a hungry bear, cashing every check to live on. Even without the new house and the remodel, San Francisco was impossibly expensive and if she didn’t find work soon, she’d have no choice but to dip into Didi’s college fund.

The plane jolted hard again and Flynn held her breath. She hated snow—driving in it, walking in it or even looking at it—and worried about the two storms that were due in the next seventy-two hours and then the final one coming on their heels for the weekend and decided it would be good old fashioned luck, more than trust in the elusive universe that would put them safely on the ground before the first storm hit. Luck was bringing something else too. Despite the jumbling about of the aircraft, she spied the drinks cart heading down the aisle, hardly so much as a tinkling coming from the tiny glass bottles nestled in its sturdy metal frame. Maybe Didi was on to something and the universe was giving Flynn exactly what she needed. Her first of what might be two or three large and lovely glasses of wine.

“Oh my God, they have GOT to be kidding.”

If Flynn had been groggy exiting the plane, she was fully awake now and only too aware of being the last passenger waiting for luggage. When the carousel finally stopped she had been forced to acknowledge an increasing sense of dread, as every bag that was spit unceremoniously from the gaping hole at the top of the belt had fallen effortlessly into the hands of some other happy holiday traveler. Hers was not forthcoming.

“I can’t believe this bullshit. It’s just too much.” She knew her voice was rising but didn’t care. Almost her entire wardrobe was in that bag.

Didi looked around. A security guard eyed them ominously. “Mom, please.”

“Please what? You have your bag. So does everyone else. I’m the only person without a bag, Didi. The only goddamn one.”

“I’m not denying that,” Didi said. “But it’s a minor inconvenience. Let’s head to the airline office and see what we can find out.”

Flynn turned on her heels and began walking briskly toward the escalator. “Minor inconvenience?” she said, turning on the bottom stair to face her daughter. “Minor is a hang nail or a run in your stocking. This is major. What am I supposed to do?”

Didi tried to hide a smile and Flynn recognized something she’d known for some time; like Roger, Didi was amused by her mother’s overreactions. “You can borrow Aunt Maeve’s clothes. Pretend you’re a suburban socialite for a few days.”

In no mood for sarcasm, Flynn turned away so as not to expose her daughter to the level of disgust that bubbled up inside of her at the thought of relying on her sister for anything. And then, not waiting for Didi, at the top of the escalator she rushed ahead to the office marked, “Customer Service.” Through the glass Flynn could see bags lined up in neat rows waiting to be claimed by their owners. She pushed through the door and raised her index finger at the middle-aged man behind the counter, who from the look of benign disregard on his face, had suffered through a long day of crazed middle aged women out for blood. “You better not have lost my bio-identical hormone cream,” she called across the room, and knew from years of experience that coming next, regardless of her own best efforts to control herself, was not a threat but a promise that heads would roll.

This was all Maeve’s fault Flynn thought, throwing Didi’s bag onto the flimsy metal cart she’d just overpaid for the privilege of using to cross the airport. Fucking airport prices.

Fucking Maeve.

“It’s obvious,” Didi said, winding a colorful scarf she’d pulled from her bag around her neck, “that your aggression is due to an unresolved conflict with Aunt Maeve.”

Four Air Train stops later, standing on the long line at Rent-A-Heap, Didi had started out trying to make the hassle of her mother’s lost bag somehow more palatable. She had moved on to suggesting that Flynn consider meditation as a way of settling her mind. When that hadn’t worked, she’d finished with a plea for self-control.

“It’s just not right to take your negative feelings about your sister out on absolutely everyone you encounter on this trip.”

Flynn had a long list of perfectly good reasons for her feelings of animosity toward her sister but there wasn’t much sense in getting into it now. “I’ve been nice to everyone with the exception of that awful man in the customer service department, which by the way is inappropriately named.”

“What about the shuttle driver?”

“I was only trying to point out…”

“And that nice old couple on the line at the airport? Look, there’s the husband over there.” Didi waved but the old man was transfixed on his wife who was entering a shuttle bus that would drop her at their rental car. “You gave them such a look on the line when they started talking to me, like you’d caught them trying to eat me. It was embarrassing.”

“Look,” Flynn said, “I’m sorry if I embarrass you but I’m tough, I’m a fighter. I got it from your grandfather. If the luggage guy—or anyone else—doesn’t like who I am, they’ll just have to get over it.”

“That’s not who you are,” Didi said, wrenching her bag out of her mother’s grasp. “You’ve just told yourself that story so many times, that’s who you think you are.”

Flynn wondered how it was that no matter how tough she claimed to be, her daughter could level her with just a few words. She tried to temper her tone, but the moment she opened her mouth, she knew she’d failed. “Who I think I am? What’s that supposed to mean? Jesus, Didi, you’ve changed. Was it the trip? Never mind, God forbid you’d tell me anything about it. But I know you’re different. Something happened to you in India that you’re not telling me.”

Didi turned around. “Something did happen to me,” she said. “I raised my consciousness. You should try it sometime.”

Flynn wanted to tell her daughter that she was fairly sure the enlightened rarely threw their own higher consciousness in the faces of those less fortunate. But she bit her tongue and instead, seized the opportunity to make Didi laugh. “Consciousness my ass. I’m plenty conscious. And believe me, most of the time, I’d rather not be.” She thought about adding that she just wasn’t raised to go deep, but left it at that.

Rather than smile, Didi huffed and turned away and Flynn realized she’d accomplished something rather difficult—pissing off her sweet, even-tempered daughter. She decided to shut up and while the line moved with maddening indolence, she scanned the room, settling on the old man they’d traveled with since San Francisco, now snoozing in a chair just inside the door. She guessed he was about her father’s age, although she had a much harder time imagining her father at seventy-five. To her, Paddy O’Shea was forever young, forever vibrant and handsome and, although she knew it was ridiculous to remember him this way, perfect. The thought of what her life would have been like if he hadn’t died had plagued her since she was old enough to think such thoughts and only a crisis like her split with Roger or losing her job were enough to push the longing aside, even momentarily.

Now as she watched the old man drift into a peaceful nap, she thought of all the sleepless nights she’d suffered since losing her job and she envied him. “I wish I could find that sort of peace,” she said to Didi, realizing too late that she hadn’t intended to show the chink in her armor. Didi moved to the counter and the clerk looked up. He was handsome, and his button down shirt gave him a boyish charm she rarely saw these days.

“Be careful what you wish for,” he said to Flynn, smiling ear to ear and handing her the keys to the car. “Van’ll be up in a minute ma’am. And of course, thanks for your business.”

Returning with the car, Flynn parked in front of the office just in time to see an ambulance pull away from the curb. Didi came through the door looking shaken.

“Sorry it took so long but the heap of crap they gave me was parked in the back forty,” Flynn said. “The goddamn shuttle driver let everyone off…” then she stopped. Didi’s eyes spilled over with tears.

“What’s the matter? Sweetheart, what happened?” Her first thought was that someone had harmed her daughter and she felt the dark impulse of motherhood that made her entirely capable of murder. “Please tell me what’s wrong.” She brushed back Didi’s hair and pressed an arm around her shoulder, pulling her close.

“You know that sweet old man from the plane who looked so peaceful sleeping in the chair?”


“There was a reason he looked so peaceful.”


“He was dead.”


“Yeah right after your van drove off, he slumped over. The guy behind the desk tried to revive him while I called 911. The ambulance arrived in about three minutes but he was already gone. That fast. Gone.” Then she fell in a heap on her bag and through her tears asked her mother, “How does that happen?”

How indeed? In one way or another, Flynn had pondered that same question her entire life and a familiar sense of powerlessness washed over her. How does that happen? She was the very last person in the world who could answer the question and resigning herself to failing her beloved child for the hundredth time that day, Flynn shuffled Didi and her lone bag into the Rent-A-Heap and headed for Maeve’s.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Orangeberry Book Tours – The Violent Season: A Story of the Generation that Fought the Vietnam War by Maj. Ray Gleason Ph.D.

THE VIOLENT SEASON is an epic, expansive collection of heroic short stories centered on the gripping experiences of three young men and their families during the Vietnam War. The book presents a ‘coming-of-age’ narrative that begins in the lush river valleys of upstate New York and on the streets of New York City and provides an insightful perspective of youth and innocence plunged into the crucible of war.

As well, it transcends the “good guys, bad guys” portrayal of human conflict by presenting its readers with a depiction of good people, Americans and Vietnamese, caught up in unthinkably grim and difficult circumstances. THE VIOLENT SEASON celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and its ability to triumph over the horror and tragedy of war.

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Genre – Literary / Historical Fiction

Rating – PG13

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Orangeberry Free Alert - 15 Days To Financial Freedom & Spiritual Wealth by C Mier

15 Days to Financial Freedom & Spiritual Wealth - C Mier

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Religion, Spirituality

Rating - G

4.8 (5 reviews)

Free until 9 May 2013

As Christians we all have questions about money, and seek our answers in the light of biblical understanding. 15 Days To Financial Freedom & Spiritual Wealth takes you on a contemplative walk that explores questions like:

  • How do I begin to:

          -Get out of debt?
          -Devise a financial plan?
          -Make more money?
          -Save for retirement?

  • How should Christians manage their finances?
  • How can I be content and not anxious about money?
  • Is there a secret to obtaining financial freedom?
  • Is it okay to be rich?
  • How should I view materialism?
  • Is it biblical to save for retirement?
  • Does everyone have a calling?

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Show & Tell in a Nutshell by Jessica Bell

~Scene 1~

amazing view


(feel) hot


(feel) tired


Sandy stood at the foot of the Egyptian Pyramids. Though she was hot, tired and sore, she was awestruck by the amazing view and felt a sense of relief. Finally, she’d made it.


Sweat ran between Sandy’s breasts and the soles of her feet burned from the two hour trek across the desert. Even though her shoulders ached from carrying her heavy rucksack, and her nose stung from the dry heat, it didn’t matter. She was standing right in front of something she’d been waiting to see her whole life. The Pyramids of Giza glistened through heat waves as if extracting all her pain. Sandy looked up, shielded her eyes from the sun, refused to break her stare. She stood, jaw agape, wondering how she’d kept away for so long.


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Genre – Non-Fiction / Writing Skills Reference

Rating – PG

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Blog http://thealliterativeallomorph.blogspot.com/

Orangeberry Book Tours – The Sin of Forgiveness by Edward F. Mrkvicka, Jr.

Today’s “forgiveness” does just the opposite of what forgiveness is meant to accomplish – put another way, secular forgiveness causes more harm than good. The one forgiving is never made whole again, while the sinner is left in the same wretched condition. But true Christian forgiveness brings a blessing to all. We are to forgive, but it must be according to the example and teachings of Christ. Anything less is a sin.

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Genre – Christian Life

Rating – G

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Connect with Edward F. Mrkvicka Jr. on GoodReads

Website http://www.edwardfmrkvickajr.com/

Monday, May 6, 2013

Orangeberry Free Alert - Welcome Home by Billi Tiner

Welcome Home - Billi Tiner

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Children’s

Rating - PG

4.3 (37 reviews)

Free until 10 May 2013

Welcome Home is the story of Jake, a black Labrador Retriever mix. For as long as Jake can remember, he has been having the same dream. In his dream, he lives with a wonderful man in a beautiful home. He has never seen the face of the man in the dream, but he knows his voice and is certain that they are meant to be together. When the day comes for Jake to be given away to his new home, he believes that he will finally get to meet the man from his dreams.
However, when he is chosen, it is definitely not by the man from his dream! He is taken to a home where he is terribly mistreated. After suffering years of abuse, Jake finally escapes and is able to begin the search for the man he has been dreaming of his entire life. Along the way, Jake meets some interesting characters, survives amazing adventures, and forms life-long friendships. Join Jake on his incredible journey home.

Orangeberry Free Alert - Foreign Deceit (A David Wolf Novel) by Jeff Carson

Foreign Deceit - Jeff Carson

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Mystery, Thriller

Rating - R

4.2 (62 reviews)

Free until 9 May 2013

Sergeant David Wolf has put his Special Forces days long behind him, settling down as a cop in the small ski resort town of Rocky Points, Colorado. He's a good cop who's seen bad days before, but none quite like this.
As if narrowly escaping an attempt on his life, his addict ex-wife being back in the picture, and complications to his all-but-certain appointment to Sheriff weren't enough, he's just received word that his traveling blogger brother has committed suicide in the Alps of Italy.
Devastation and resentment over his only sibling's selfish act quickly gives way to a nagging suspicion that he isn't getting the whole truth. Conviction of his brother's character is enough to pull Wolf from his pressing situation at home to the entirely foreign land of Northern Italy -- into a more dangerous and volatile turn of events than he could have possibly imagined.
With the help of a beautiful young officer of the Caribinieri, Wolf must piece together what happened on that last fateful night of his brother's life without ruffling too many feathers, or paying the ultimate price.
A gritty tale of international mystery, Foreign Deceit is a cerebral, visceral and emotional ride that will keep you guessing until the final pages.

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Be Careful What You Wish For (Saga of the New Gods) by David Black (Excerpt)


The world was void, and darkness was upon the deep…

All reality, all that would be called reality had there been anyone to give the darkness name, was darkness…

From one moment to the next, darkness became light. And a being that could be called a god… or pantheon… their/his race called themselves/himself Djinn… if he/they called himself/themselves anything at all…

The being/entity/pantheon faced itself and was two, neither diminished, neither less powerful in the slightest than they had been when one.

“Must this be?” one asked/thought in a multitude of voices that spread ripples of creation through the universe that was given birth to in this utterance.

“It must,” the other responded, his voice’s reverberations colliding with the first, causing planets and stars to appear where the lines of force encountered one another.

The battle lasted eons, the battle was completed in moments, the battle was of words, the battle was a titanic struggle where galaxies died and a universe was created.

Finally one stood victorious, as they knew at the beginning he would.

No words were spoken now, the victor, still identical in form and nature to the vanquished, stood over him and brought his hands together. The vanquished shrank away into the distance, and remained where he was; debris gradually collected around him where he lay, and a planet was born from his defeat, collecting around him in his prison like a pearl formed within the mouth of the universe itself.

As the being’s hand was covered by the forming planet, though, one last wish, one small gesture, and a ring flashed, and was gone…

Book 1

Saga of the New Gods

Be Careful What You Wish For

By Daniel Black

Chapter 1

Brandon Jones

OCC Math Science Lab, Athens, Ohio

2:13 p.m. June 5th, 2021

“So as you can see, the entire project’s findings were rendered completely worthless because they failed to observe Schrödinger’s principle,” the professor droned, gesturing toward the screen in his own class in Berkley, California.

Brandon had seen this demonstration before, and was hard-pressed to show any interest at all. He looked around the small classroom—twelve desks, and only one student—his college was unable to even provide him with a flesh and blood teacher, though they were able to provide him this video-teleconference.

Sighing in regret, he decided beggars could not be choosers. At least they were required to provide him with this much by the terms of his scholarship, which by going to a community college he was able to stretch to cover food and lodging as well as a triple course load.

“Which I will lose if I do not ace this guy’s class,” he muttered, and turned back to the screen.

The class, his most difficult and probably least practical class, was theoretical quantum physics. Of course he also had several other classes, from quantum mechanics all the way down to Latin, but this was his major: what he intended to base his future on. His goal was to reach a doctorate in the field within four years, and he felt that he was well on his way to doing so in this, his second year of college.

The professor continued to drone on, and yes, by god he was actually wearing tweed… what a presumptuous, pompous twit.

Brandon tried to pay attention, but the way the guy on the screen was droning was putting him rapidly to sleep.

Deciding that the only thing to do was to think of something interesting to keep his mind going—as a nap would probably be taken amiss by the gimlet eye of the camera watching him while he watched the professor—he decided to think about the game coming up later.

Brandon had been an avid gamer since the age of six: tabletop role-playing games, computer games, console games, if it had a strategy that concentrated more on the mental than the physical, he was on it. His current game of choice was the old standby, Dungeons and Dragons, in particular a mix of systems run by his friend Adam.

As he considered the upcoming game, his mind began, of its own accord, to turn—as he had a great deal of difficulty keeping his eyes from turning during the games—to Chelsea. His gaming group consisted of six people: Adam, the game master, kinda twitchy, but generally a good guy in a game; Michelle, Adam’s girlfriend, and permanent addition to the game that was very bearable—she mostly looked like a guy, and played like one as well, generally as a rogue of one type or another; Tim, his best friend since childhood, jolly as hell, and difficult to make take anything seriously; Blake, the new guy, young and into sports to a degree that Brandon was not comfortable with, playing a fighter currently, which was just his speed, all brawn and no brains, his first character in the game. Finally his thoughts arrived at Chelsea, and his lips twisted into a slightly vacuous smile as he gazed unseeingly at the screen. Chelsea was his only real regret in the gaming group. Among gamers, the ratio of males to females was about eighty/twenty, and she was gorgeous—something even less common among gamers, but not unheard-of. She had a perfect ass, and filled out her shirt nicely as well. 

Feeling his face beginning to flush, he forced his mind to swerve on a tangent back to its second course.

Two months ago, before Blake the bastard joined their game, Chelsea had at last been single. Brandon had finally decided, after she had been single for two weeks, to ask her out. He had shown up early to the game, dressed in his usual black slacks and white shirt, and there she’d been, sitting there on the couch, more beautiful than ever, a radiant grin on her face… next to Blake.

Brandon had missed his opportunity, and now he was just waiting for the two of them to break up.

It would probably be going too far to say that she was his first love, but he had definitely fallen into serious lust with her on sight.

A buzzer went off, snapping him away from his ruminations on the elusive Chelsea, and he realized that the lecture was done. Brandon scanned rapidly through his memory of the preceding hour, but no, there was nothing new.

Sighing at the wasted time, he stood and clicked off the monitor, then walked to the door, clicking the lights off as he stepped through it, heading to his game.

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Genre – Dark Fantasy

Rating – R

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Orangeberry Book of the Day – Bad Traffick (Leine Basso Series) by DV Berkom (Excerpt)

Chapter One

The gentleman in the impeccable Armani suit watched the images flash by on the screen, a glass of Macallan single malt on the gold inlay table beside him. Two additional men, shrouded in darkness and unknown to each other, were also taking part in the video conference from different areas of the world, watching the same images. Several times one or the other would raise his hand, platinum or gold watch flashing in the darkened rooms, signaling for the Seller to pause the presentation so they could look more closely at the photographs.

The Seller was visibly sweating in the air conditioned comfort of the massive hotel suite. If he didn't make the sale this time, these clients would look elsewhere for their pleasures. His reputation as the go-to guy in the business was balancing on a knife's edge. Ever since the fiasco with the televangelist two months prior, he'd kept a sharp eye on the operational side of things.

One of the executives was fidgeting, apparently bored, and the Seller's anxiety level skyrocketed. He didn't have to find a mirror to know his appearance was giving his discomfort away. He could feel the cold sweat flowing down his back and armpits, running between his buttocks. What the hell do these guys want? Am I losing my touch? Usually it wasn't this hard to match the client to the product.

The Seller was down to his last two photographs when all three men simultaneously motioned for him to stop. The client in Saudi Arabia rose from his chair and walked to the screen, gazing at the delicate visage.

The Seller's shoulders relaxed. He shouldn't have been worried, should've known the eyes would close the deal: jade green flecked with gold surrounding deep black pupils. Everyone who saw her stopped in their tracks. She'd reminded the Seller of a famous photo he'd seen years before in an issue of National Geographic. She wore the same enigmatic expression. The silence of the buyers signaled it was time for the hard sell.

"Gentleman. I see you have exquisite taste. Mara is newly acquired and in pristine condition. I guarantee she will delight you with her generous charms. As I'm sure you'll agree, she has no equal. I always save the best for last. Mustn't trot out the most sublime too quickly, eh?"

There were murmurs of agreement between the men. The Seller's anxiety morphed to excitement as he prepared to set the hook. My God, look at them. They're practically salivating. A bidding war would be a welcome relief.

The client in the room waved him to his side. His unusual gold pinkie ring flashed, catching the Seller's eye. He'd seen the symbol before, but was unaware of its significance.

"Her age?" he asked.

The Seller turned and glanced at the picture of the girl. Her expression still held a trace of innocence, although churning through the American foster care system for two years had taken its toll. The photographer had captured the picture before Mara realized she wasn't going home.

"Twelve years, sir."


"Most assuredly."

The man nodded his approval. He glanced back at the screen and steepled his fingers, bringing them to his lips to mask his words.

"Make sure she's mine," he whispered.

The quiet statement held the promise of a lucrative payday tinged with strong warning. The Seller's mouth ran dry. He nodded as he straightened and walked to the front of the room. The cameraman panned with him, framing his head and shoulders with Mara's photograph in the background. The other two clients would see only the Seller with the girl's face behind him on screen. Taking a sip of water from a glass nearby, he cleared his throat.

"Shall we start the bidding at fifty-thousand?"


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Genre – Romantic Suspense

Rating – PG13

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Orangeberry Book Tours – Running Against Traffic by Gaelen VanDenbergh

Paige Scott is done in. Done for. Done with it. Having spent her childhood shuffled between relatives who ignored her, and her adult life hiding within the walls of her relationships with men, she is prepared to live out her empty days in her crumbling marriage to David Davenport. David has other plans, however, and flings her into a remote, impoverished world, in stark contrast to the wealthy cosmopolitan one that was all she knew. Here she is forced to face the betrayals of her past and learn, for the first time, how to care for herself, and for others.

Hilarity and tragedy, addictions, unexpected friendships, and Paige’s discovery of running and the relief it brings propel her on her journey toward the mending of a broken spirit, and learning how to truly live. Step by step, mile by mile.

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Genre – Contemporary Fiction

Rating – PG13

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Orangeberry Book of the Day - The Call of Agon by Dean F. Wilson


Ifferon watched the head-cleric Teron with growing unease, until every movement or gesture was like the threat of something sinister; a curious glance became a stabbing glare and a shift in seat became an ominous betrayal of a hidden agenda. Ifferon clutched the side of the table like a shield, while fear seized his heart and stayed his breath. He hung on the edge of his seat, as he hung on the words of Teron.

“We are running out of time,” Teron said grimly. “Their ships should be here within hours.”

“I know,” Ifferon said, but the waver in his voice revealed his doubt. He had been waiting for this moment for a very long time—it was his daily dread. Prayer was as common as air in the monastery, but Ifferon’s only true prayers were that it would not come to this, that he would not have to run again.

Ifferon was almost certain that Teron knew about his flight, that he had come to the monastery in Larksong not as a true Follower of Olagh, but as a follower of his fears. As if sensing his thoughts Teron settled a cruel glare upon him. The fire that burned in those eyes was more powerful than Ifferon could ever dream, but looking past those flames Ifferon saw a shadow, and this unsettled him.

“Do you believe in coincidence?” Teron asked, and Ifferon felt the question probe his mind before he could answer. His thoughts began to scatter and the juices in his mouth dried up, forcing him to give a faint cough in reply.

Teron leaned forward a little, his face cowled in shadow. “Do you believe you are here for a reason?” There was a short pause, but it felt like eternity, uncomfortable and unsettling, and then the head-cleric began again: “Ifferon,” he said, his voice commanding, using the sound of his companion’s name as a key to unlocking his mind. “You are not making this any easier for yourself. Feigning the fool will not get you out of this room any quicker. When I ask you questions I expect answers. I expect confessions.”

This was no longer a meeting; it was an interrogation. Each passing moment felt like the drawing of a noose, each probing question the tightening of the rope about his neck.

“So let me ask you again: do you believe you are here for a reason?”

“Yes,” Ifferon said, but it was an uncertain one. He had been running from that reason for a long time now, hoping it would pass him by, pick some other person, choose some other fool.

Teron knew more than he let on. It was hard to tell just which of one’s dark secrets he had access to. “Our purpose is said to have long been decided, our side in any battle carved in stone. Do you really believe that someone’s will cannot be swayed?” He shifted in his seat and held his hand aloft, as if indeed he were casting some spell of sway upon Ifferon.

“Sometimes it is swayed long before the swayer has any say,” Ifferon tried boldly. In that moment the light breeze that seemed forever present in the drafty monastery grew stronger and the jumping fire of the solitary candle cast a darker shadow upon Teron’s face. His eyes grew dim.

“Yes, and sometimes the offer is too good to refuse,” Teron stated, drawing closer across the table. Ifferon could almost imagine his long, bony fingers reaching out to maul him.

The light shifted again, exposing new details while hiding old ones. Teron’s hair seemed much more grey here in the dark than it did in the open cloister, and his rugged beard masked his mouth, as if to further veil the beguiling words that came out of it. It was his eyes, however, that seized all who looked upon them; they were dark, deep rifts of age and wisdom. Ifferon feared this, as if he knew that this wisdom could indeed sway him.

“You watch me with uneasy eyes,” Teron noted. He withdrew back into the shadows again, but his presence lingered. “I wonder if you have watched as carefully the moving pieces on this earthly board that has led now to our ... conversation.”

“I have watched many things,” Ifferon said. “And listened to the whisper of others.”

“Then you know as much as I,” Teron remarked. “Or more? Yes, perhaps you know more. Is it not your duty then to reveal unto your head-cleric that which you have been concealing?”

“My duty here is to uphold the ways of Olagh.”

Teron laughed, and the sound was like thunder by a god whose servants have failed to appease him. This was not the voice of mirth—it was mockery.

“So you laugh at your clerics,” Ifferon said.

“No,” Teron replied, scolding him with his eyes. “Only you, because you are the only one to come to me and feign piety when we both know that is neither what made you join us, nor what kept you here after you joined. I am many things, Ifferon, but I am not a fool, and those who treat me like one have been given mercy if they are greeted by my laughter and not my lash.”

“Why then did I come here?” Ifferon asked. It was as much a question for his own ears as any other’s, a question he often asked on the frequent lonely nights spent locked away in his small, cold room.

“To hide,” Teron said. “Not that you have been that successful at it.”

“I have been here ten years.”

“And I have known your purpose for nine of those.”

“Why then let me stay?”

“Because I care for you, Ifferon, even if you are not truly a Follower of Olagh.”

“Why is it that I do not believe you are one either?” Ifferon quizzed.

“Because you have a suspicious mind, my dear Ifferon, but also an intelligent one. I am a leader, Ifferon, not a follower. This is why I am head-cleric here. This is why you are not really a cleric at heart. You are a leader who does not want to lead.”

“Then am I really a leader?”

Teron ignored his question and asked one of his own: “Why do you think they are coming here?” His tone suggested he already knew the answer. This was something Ifferon had grown accustomed to, and yet it always jarred him, like a familiar object in an unfamiliar place. “Why do you think they are launching an attack against us?”

“Because that is what they do,” Ifferon said. “They attack and kill things. It is in their blood.”

“And what is in yours, pray tell?”

“I do not know what you mean,” Ifferon responded, trying to conceal his thoughts in a way that Teron might.

“So you insult my intelligence again,” Teron remarked, gritting his teeth. “Do you think me blind? Old age may be upon me now, but I am far from senile. You carry the blood of Telm, Ifferon, and do not pretend otherwise.”

“The fact that you would suggest that Telm exists reveals you are not at home in the Order of Olagh,” Ifferon said.

“They are one and the same, as you well know.”

“But we do not call him that.”

“Because of where we live, Ifferon. The King is a Follower of Olagh and his favour is sometimes more important than the truth. Look at how they treat the Garigút. I wonder if those wanderers chose their way of life or if they were forced to move from place to place because the people of Boror would not allow them to stay.”

“The Garigút are also people of Boror,” Ifferon corrected.

“Yes, and look at how they are mistreated for their following a larger pantheon. Would you then blame any of us for not revealing our religious persuasions under such conditions?”

“No, but I am hardly a standard Bororian.”

“Which is precisely why we are here, why we are bandying words while others outside these walls prepare to bandy swords. Ifferon, I will be honest with you, for I worry that you have been greeted with too many lies thus far in your life. If people were to know that I was holding my office without holding Olagh in my heart it would be the end of me.” His eyes were softer now, with a hint of sadness, but the grizzled features of his face stood at odds with them, like mountains towering above two tiny lakes.

“And what about the end of those ‘heathens’ your office has overseen?” Ifferon cried, almost demanding the answer as he often mused he would when safely outside the head-cleric’s gaze.

“That is an unfortunate side-effect of my role.”

“A side-effect? It’s not like taking a herb where there’s a risk of rash or dizziness; the side-effect of your role is death! How can I sit here and listen to your hypocrisies?”

“Because you are a hypocrite yourself, hiding away here as a Follower of Olagh when you are one of the last children of Telm and his earthly consorts. Do you know what the Trial would do if they knew you were here? They would hunt you down just as quickly as the forces of Agon, and they would probably be crueller in how they bring you to the doors of Halés. But I am merciful and kind. I keep these secrets for you to keep you safe.”

“And am I safe?” Ifferon asked, but this was not a question meant for Teron.

“At this present moment, yes, but that will soon change if you do not make swift your decisions. Ifferon, I once told you that Larksong was a haven for a scholar, so much so that it would one day be the victim of its own success, that its hoarding of manuscripts would lead to the hordes of evil men who come now to set it all ablaze. But I was lying then, for they do not come for books.” He stared at Ifferon now, as if silently communicating to him some dark message through his eyes.

“They come for you,” Teron said at last, and his voice came like the sudden slam of a door; or the cold, sharp slice of the headman’s axe. The ring of his steel words seemed to last a lifetime, attacking Ifferon’s ears, invading his brain. It was not as if he did not expect them, for why else would the forces of Agon come to Larksong? They had found him at last, one of the few remaining children of the dead god Telm, one of the few remaining names on the blood-stained list.

Teron eased himself from his high-backed chair, and Ifferon would hardly have known it but for the swish of his robes as they grazed the cold floor. The candlelight was dying quickly now. From the corner of his eyes Ifferon could see the silhouette of Teron approaching the doorway of the room—but for a solitary moment Ifferon’s eyes were fixed on the chair Teron had sat upon. He watched it like a Gorgon, his gaze impenetrable, and he still felt the head-cleric’s presence there, still saw his outline amidst the shadow.

“Come,” Teron called as he passed through the alcove like a king, his robes unfurling, his strides elegant. But he was not a king, and as Teron glanced back once, his aged face clearly evident, Ifferon knew that Teron recognised this, recognised his own frailty.

When the trance had broken Ifferon almost fell from his chair and followed. He reached the curved alcove, but turned and looked at the dining table, with the high-backed chair for Teron, a false superiority. A cold silence hung above the table like a lantern, and it cast its light far, for even as Ifferon turned back to the pathway ahead of him, a chill grasped his neck and pierced his skin.

The hallway was dark and damp, less of a hallway and more of a tomb. The smell of dust was evident throughout, as if its vaults had only now been opened. The old brickwork was darkened with moss and the fissures therein echoed the growing void in Ifferon’s heart. The passage was thin, forcing Ifferon to squeeze his way through, marring his robe with the lichen on the walls. He walked on, keeping one hand on his shoulder, the moss an excuse, the reality a veiled cuddle in the dark.

The passage curved to the right and Ifferon passed by a large torch that was held to the wall by a set of obsidian hands. He shivered as he passed them, his imagination wild with the thought of what could be concealed within those walls. His thoughts wandered further and he cringed at the idea of being locked away in the secret dining room, a lost soul in a lost cellar.

The darkness of the passage was as oppressing as Teron’s invasive glare, but soon Ifferon joined the head-cleric outside in the cloister under the less distressing darkness of the night sky. For a moment the onerous tension left Ifferon as he sighed deeply. He looked upon the few stars that dotted the heavens and the wisps of dark grey cloud that formed abstract shapes in the growing nightfall. He gulped as he swallowed this beauty, feeling a slight smile form on his lips; it was almost a smile of sadness, of regret, as he realised that the beauty was fleeting, that it would pass before day had come.

But Ifferon’s relaxation was shattered once more when Teron spoke: “How long have we known each other?” He placed his hand on Ifferon’s shoulder, and Ifferon flinched, as if it were the outward expression of some disease contaminating him.

“Long,” Ifferon managed.

“Do you trust me?”

Ifferon paused and watched as Teron forced a smile, but the head-cleric’s grip tightened on his shoulder and tore a reply from him. “Yes,” he said, a lie. Teron knew it was a lie; Ifferon could already see the glimmer in those darkening eyes.

“Then you would trust my judgement?”

“Depending on the judgement,” Ifferon said, relaxing once more as Teron’s hand was drawn back into his white robes, like a rat returned to its layer.

“Ifferon, I have long served the King of Boror and I do not treat with all and sundry. My time is a treasure that I share with few, my words a wisdom I impart to the elect. You should feel honoured that I have called you away for my counsel. You are different to the others here, by your own making and the will of those we can say so little about. Different. And I think that warrants such wisdom, because you are like me. Different.” He turned and walked across the cloister, brushing the gentle splashes of rain that had suddenly come from the sky.

Ifferon shivered and passed on through the pillars of the cloister, but unlike Teron he savoured the rain. It always gave him the replenishment he needed after many days locked in his musty old room. It gave him the feeling of life that seemed so sparse within these walls. But he knew that Teron was waiting, and the head-cleric’s patience was always thin.

He quickly caught up with Teron, who was strolling through the moonlit cloister. He seemed to be in the throes of a deep internal debate, for his brow was furrowed and his gaze was cast aloft.

Another cleric passed them by, his hood up and his head held low as he scurried off. Ifferon glanced back and saw that this man had slowed his pace and turned to look at them. Ifferon could not tell who it was beneath the cowl, but something about the figure unnerved him

“Ah, Ifferon,” Teron asked, shaking his head. “I am not the one who would abandon you like your parents did, nor the one to leave you like your consort did, nor the one to deceive you like so many did. I am your spiritual counsellor, an ear that listens from the heart, a friend who speaks with concern as his tongue. I worry for you like a mother, fear for you like a father, and love you deeply as a friend. The only reason I am so harsh with you at times is that it is the only way you will listen, for you are as stubborn as a Moln, thinking all the world is against you, when really your biggest enemy is yourself, your creation of barriers, your destruction of your freedom.”

They stopped now and Teron turned to Ifferon. For a moment his features were not fierce; he looked at Ifferon with tenderness in his eyes. He held both of Ifferon’s shoulders and this time Ifferon realised that they were not claws, but hands.

“Agon has spoiled many things,” Teron stated. “And his next will be the offspring of Telm if this attack bodes ill for us. His anger is unyielding, fuelled by his constant torment. He believes that his pain is spawned by the existence of this world, and thus, in a final effort to cease his suffering, he will try to bring about the end of all life. He seeks peace, Ifferon, but not in the same manner as Man. He seeks peace for himself, within himself, a peace that requires a final war.

“But Agon did not force this prison upon you. He is the jailor of many, but you are the one who possesses the keys to your own cell. He may hunt you, but he did not lock you away here, nor force upon you the choices you have made these last few years. Your prison is in your mind, where you limit yourself, where you take on the voice of the Beast and speak to yourself the way he would if he could only get to you. But he does not need to if you will do the work for him. Fear is what locked you away, Ifferon, and fear is a tool of Agon. When you fear you open the gate that lets him into your mind. His greatest weapon is fear, for it drives strong men to madness. So why then be afraid?

“You need to stop hiding and take control, so that you can unleash your true potential, unlock yourself. When you do this you will realise what a Child of Telm can do. But now, dear Ifferon, I must prepare a sermon. Many will die tonight. Let not you be one of them.”

And so Teron strolled off, still as elegant and ethereal as ever. The words Teron had spoken to him with such tenderness and care should have lifted him from the darkness, but Ifferon was disheartened, feeling the brunt of the attack before it occurred. His heart no longer thumped with fear and anxiety, but was overcome with grief.

He paused for a moment in the open garden of the cloister, mourning for the flowers and the bushes that would no longer be there once the battle begun. It still rained lightly, but this time the rain did not comfort him. His eyes were drawn to the clouds that hung overhead and he wondered if the sky might fall upon him too.

He walked back to his room and when he came to the old musty door, he stalled, for something seemed amiss. Surely he had closed the door when he left; he could have sworn he did. But it was ajar, if ever so slightly. Perhaps he had forgotten to close it fully when he rushed out to Teron’s summons.

He shoved the door open now and walked inside. He made his way to the table that he had left something very valuable on. Foolish, he thought. Teron could have been a distraction while someone stole it from him. Very foolish.

His eyes faltered for a moment to look at the stormy sky outside. He could see little from the loophole window, but what he saw was unsettling. He used to be able to watch the tranquil sea, but it was not calm now, and all he could see there was the ominous rolling fog, taunting its concealing power.

Then his gaze wavered once more and he glanced at the broken cabinet in the corner, the only piece of furniture in the room besides his bed and table. He returned to that table and scoured it with his eyes, noting the large open tomes he had been using in his studies, the loose leafs of delicate manuscripts, the wooden blocks containing cryptograms and foreign alphabets, and the Scroll itself, unfurled and held down by two stones carved with Aelora runes.

He paused. It seemed to summon him just as Teron had, beckoning him to draw near, hinting at something elusive. He watched the parchment as if it were his life—old, ragged, torn, full of gaping holes and lasting damage. He studied the Aelora symbols that adorned the piece. At one time he thought they were beautiful. He supposed he still did, but now they looked dull, as if sapped of their life-force and energy. Something was not right.

He watched the piece so strongly that it took him several minutes to realise something so disturbing that he was forced to back away. The Scroll, laying there in the silence, was not where he had last left it. It had been moved.


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Rating – PG

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