Dreaming in the Pages

Books ... where dreams are better than reality

Broken Pieces

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sleeper's Run by Henry Mosquera (Excerpt)


“What’s your name?” the police officer asks me.

“Eric Caine,” I answer rubbing my temple while lying on a hospital bed.

“Do you know where you are?” the cop says. Like me, he looks to be in his thirties, and has
the same body type. The officer has short brown hair, gentle blue eyes, and a youthful face that tells me he hasn’t been in this job very long.

Doctor Goldman, the man I saw when I woke up this morning, stands behind the officer. He’s a prematurely balding guy with glasses and a pleasant demeanor; probably just out of med school.

“The Miami VA,” I say scratching my scruffy black beard. “Listen, I already went through this wit h Doct or Goldman this morning. Whats t his all about?”

“I’m Officer Tucker with the Miami-Dade Police Department. I need to ask you a couple of questions.”

“Maybe you should’ve talked to the doctor first, Officer. He would’ve saved you some time by telling you I can’t remember much.”

“Mr. Caine, your employer has filed a missing person report on you. That was eight days ago. Since then, no one has had any idea of your whereabouts. That’s why it’s important to establish what happened.”

“Eight days?” I mutter as the idea dawns on me.“How did I get here?”

“You were found wandering the streets of South Beach by a gentleman,” Doctor Goldman says. “At first, he thought you were just a homeless man, but the fact that you were speaking Arabic caught his attention, so he decided to help. He saw the military ID card in your wallet when you passed out,and decided to bring you here.”

I study the doctor and the policeman with the same quizzical look they cast on me. Why the hell was I speaking Arabic?

“Mr.Caine,what’s the last thing you remember?” Officer Tucker says.

I lie back looking out t he window, and rub my face t o force my memory t o spit up somet hing, anything. “I was at a bar downtown called Tobacco Road. I remember walking to my car. It was late... that’s all I can remember. The rest are just fragments of me walking down the street, and then I woke up here.”

“Were you alone?” Tucker begins taking notes. “Huh?”

“At the bar.”

“Yes, I went by myself.”

“Did you drink that night?” Tucker’s eyes search for an answer even before I can speak. “I had a few drinks,” I say,looking down a little uncomfortably.

“I noticed on your record you got two DUIs about a month apart from each other,” the officer says giving me a hard stare. He’s clearly not buying it .

“It’s been a rough year,” I say holding the officer’s stare.

“It must be,” Tucker says returning to his notes. “You were also detained for getting into a
fight with some guys at another bar a couple of weeks ago.” His eyes shoot back at me. “Luckily for you, nobody pressed any charges.” He continues reading, “The police were also called t o your home t wo mont hs ago, about shot s being fired in your apart ment . An accident al discharge of a firearm involving a television set.”

“Like I said, it’s been a rough year.”

“Have you ever been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder?” Doctor Goldman asks.

“Listen, I’m not some deranged vet,” I say. “If you want to charge me with something, go ahead. So either get to the point or go away.”

I can see both men are taken aback by my outburst. I take a deep breath and lay back, rubbing my eyes and trying to compose myself. I’m still confused as all hell and now my head hurt s.

“Do you remember anything about the accident?” Tucker asks right on cue.

“Accident?” I say freezing. Images of my old man killed by a drunk driver bombard my mind, accompanied by a growing sense of dread.

“You were involved in a car accident near the I-95 not too far from the bar,” Officer Tucker says scrutinizing my face for any signs of deception.

“Was anybody hurt?” Isay before the cop can continue.


I feel as if my blood starts to flow again.

“You crashed your car into a tree,” Tucker says. “The vehicle was declared a ‘total loss.’

There were no witnesses.”

I suddenly feel as if t he ground has been pulled from under my feet . Officer Tucker repeats the question, but my mind is miles away. An accident? I can’t recall anything about a crash. Did I finally snap and try to take it up with God? That’d make sense if I actually believed in him.

He seems sufficiently satisfied by my confused look to proceed with the questioning. “There was reportedly a fight at the bar that same night; you wouldn’t happen to know anything about that,would you?”

“No,” I say in a daze.

“Do you have any family?”

I shake my head.


“I just moved here three months ago.” My answers roll off my tongue automatically.
“From where?”

“Fayetteville, NorthCarolina. I was stationed at Pope Air Force Base.”

“How long have you been working as a paramedic?”

“Pretty much since Igot here,” I say.

“But you live in a luxury condo.” Tucker’s street smarts take over his bedside manner.

“It was my mother’s. Does this have anything to do with your investigation?”

“No,” the officer says closing his notepad. “Don’t worry; this is more of an insurance concern than a police matter. You seem in good health. You didn’t injure anyone or damage any property for that matter. So, aside from a couple of fees regarding the towing and storage of your car, you have nothing to worry about.”

“Other than my memory,” I say.

“Mr. Caine, you seem to have suffered a severe contusion that affected your short-term memory,” Goldman says.“This combined with the shock of the accident must have left you in a confused state. This is, of course, a peculiar situation, to say the least; but not impossible. Fortunately, all your tests came back fine. As far as we can tell, you’re in excellent health.”

“Yet I feel like the floor of a taxi,” I say rubbing my sore body.

“Nothing that a nice bath and a good night’s sleep won’t fix,” the doctor says.

Officer Tucker stands up and hands me his card. “If you remember anything, give me a call.”

I take it and wait for him to leave. He stops, remembering something. “One more thing...” “Yes?”

“Where did you learn to speak Arabic?” “The Air Force,” I say, lying.

“Of course. You have a good day, Mr. Caine.” 

  • Winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Awards for best mystery/thriller
  • Winner of the 2011 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards for Best South American Novel
  • 2012 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award finalist
  • Honorable mention at the Paris Book Festival
  • Honorable mention at the San Francisco Book Festival
War on Terror veteran, Eric Caine, is found wandering the streets of Miami with no memory of the car accident that left him there. Alone and suffering from PTSD, Eric is on a one-way road to self-destruction. Then a chance meeting at a bar begins a series of events that helps Eric start anew. When his new job relocates him to Venezuela-the land of his childhood-things, however, take an ominous turn as a catastrophic event threatens the stability of the country. Now Eric must escape an elite team of CIA assassins as he tries to uncover an international conspiracy in which nothing is what it seems.

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Genre - Political Thriller
Rating – R
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Connect with Henry Mosquera on Facebook & Twitter

Friday, June 14, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Tongues of Angels by Julia Park Tracey

Ordinary Time 


Rob searched the crowd in the Italian restaurant for a friend. His sun-darkened skin was bronze against his white collar. He felt the heat through his many layers, the weight of black clericals on an August day, the rub of his collar on his brown neck, and wished himself again on the soft shore of Kauai, with cool-warm water lapping his toes, an iced drink at hand. But vacation was over, summer almost gone, and the pace of church life about to pick up dramatically. Rob cupped a hand to his eyes to see across the outside courtyard, where tables were set under an awning, and patrons lounged with wine glasses at the outdoor bar.

There, Rob spied the sun-bleached hair, heard the distinct laugh, recognized at once the erect posture of his best friend, Father Lawrence Poole, bantering with the bartender. They hadn’t seen each other all summer; Lawrence had been in Italy for a month, then Rob had gone to Hawaii to visit relatives. Rob had missed Lawrence more than he’d expected, felt the loss of the regular afternoon call which filled that empty portion of the day; he had missed Lawrence’s wicked laughter through the phone line, the gossip and the companionship that only two souls with the same vocation could know.

Lawrence greeted Rob with a hug. “Hey, there, sweetie. You look relaxed. Did you get lucky over the summer?”

“Ha, ha.” Rob hugged Lawrence back. “You’re projecting. Is there something you need to confess?”

Lawrence put his hand over his heart and made a tragic face. “My lips are sealed.” Lawrence kissed his fingertips, eyes closed reverently.

“I’ll bet.”

The maitre d’ arrived to escort them to a table.

As Rob and Lawrence passed through the restaurant, a lingering trace of perfume met them, to Rob, as familiar as the scent of his own pillow, his own warmed bed, sweet and musky as a woman. And there was a woman somewhere in the room, nameless, anointed with a certain scent, one that pulled him like a ribbon of memory. Another woman had worn the same perfume for him, long ago, a fragrance forever associated with her, that time, that place, that choice, leading down to this moment, this life. Rob pushed the thought back as they came to their table, and he took his seat. A waitress stood by to take their order.

“Have a drink with me,” Lawrence said, dropping into his chair. “I want to celebrate.”

“Let’s get a bottle, then,” said Rob, taking up the wine list. He pointed to a Sonoma Chardonnay. “This one’s fine,” he told their waitress. As he spoke to her, he noticed a fading red mark—knife slice, cat scratch?—on the back of her hand.

The young waitress in her black trousers and crisp white shirt noted the wine and nodded. Rob handed her the list, watching the curve of her jaw as she walked away, the one brown strand of hair at the nape of her white neck that her hair clasp had missed. He made himself look around the restaurant, noticing instead the marble counters, the open windows where the breeze came in, and the terra cotta tile of the floor.

“Tell me what we’re celebrating,” Rob said.

“Ah. Yes. Something wonderful.” Lawrence smiled, his face still glowing with a Southern California tan, sun-bleached bangs that he tossed from his forehead like an impatient colt. “I met a man last month when I was home in La Jolla for a few days.”

“Oh, don’t tell me—you’re in love.” Rob covered his ears.

“Oh, no, nothing like that.”

“Thank God.”

The waitress returned with the bottle of wine. Rob watched her strong hands as she presented the chill green bottle, deftly opened it, poured, and left them again. When Rob had attended St. Joseph’s Seminary, the nuns who had cared for them—washed the seminarians’ clothes, cooked and served the meals—had belonged to a cloistered order. They never showed their faces, but worked silently in the refectory behind a screen, raised just enough to push out plates of food, with only their hands visible. He recalled their unadorned hands, some freckled with liver spots and others blue-veined with age. One particular pair of hands was youthful, smooth and slender, the color of coffee ice cream, with short squared nails. Rob’s first years at seminary had been a torment, dreaming of those hands.

Rob had never stopped yearning. He knew desire that could sweep through him: the untwisting of a tourniquet, the full heat of blood that floods into a pallid limb, the deliberate twist again to stop the flow. He coped with Zen-like mantras, a Hindu’s control of the physical self, a Jewish sense of guilt. Rob tasted the wheat-colored wine, letting its crisp-tart flavor lie on his tongue before he swallowed its coolness. “So what about this guy?”

Lawrence swirled the wine in his glass and held it to the light to admire its pale color. His long tapered fingers, as if shaped in the womb just to play piano, curved gracefully around the stem of the glass. “It turns out this guy works for Archangel Records. I told him about my plan to compose a Mass, and he was interested.” Lawrence had often talked of composing the Propers for an entire Mass.

“Well, so, he’s interested, so what? That means nothing. I gave him my number and flew back up here, thinking, shot in the dark, chance in a million he’ll call me. My typical luck.” Lawrence sipped his wine. “But this week he actually called. He connected me with this agent in L.A. who handles church music, and they gave me a deadline. I have till June 1 to compose the music, score it, arrange it, make a demo, and get the package to them. And if I make the deadline, and if they like it, we’ll record it. I’ll have a compact disc out for liturgical use—and royalties, I hasten to add. Not bad, eh?” He raised an eyebrow.

“You lead a charmed life, don’t you?” Rob clinked his glass to Lawrence’s. “What’ll you do with the money?”

“Give it to Mother Church, of course. Use it to fund some music minis-tries—like maybe a new cathedral choir.”

“They do need help.”

Lawrence sighed. “But there’s a problem.”


“There are only two priests at Resurrection and we’re both booked solid with meetings every night and weddings every Saturday. I have no free time to compose now. The timing is awful! Autumn is the worst, you know, with all these activities, and next thing you know, boom, it’s Advent, Christmas, then it’s Lent, and where’s the time gone?” Lawrence jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “Out the window with my recording contract. If the timing was different, I’d be fine. I can’t pass this up, but I don’t know how I’m gonna make it, either.”

“Why don’t I take some of your weddings? Let me know the dates,” Rob offered, as their entrees arrived. The waitress leaned against him, a brush, a nudge, as she worked; setting plates before them, grinding pepper, offering Parmesan, smooth and efficient. Rob and Lawrence waited until she walked away, and then they bowed their heads for a silent prayer. They began to eat.

“So Italy was good?” Rob asked, blowing on a forkful of steaming pasta.

Lawrence held his hand to his heart again. “The best. It always is. I should move there. I will, someday.” He sighed. “How was Hawaii?”

“Hot.” Rob remembered the warm wind, the heat of white sand at his back. “I just lay around at the beach most of the time.”

“Oh?” Lawrence paused, his fork halfway to his mouth. “And?”

“And I got a nice tan. End of story.”

“I’ll hear your confession later, my son.”

“You’re a real funny guy, you know that?” Rob gave Lawrence a look. “Hysterical. Of course I was good.”

“Nothing less than perfection from St. Robert, virgin martyr.”

“Give me a break.”

Lawrence crossed his fingers as if to ward off a vampire. “Next you’ll tell me the ‘Poor Celibate Rob’ story again.”

“Ah, bite me.” Rob grinned as he twirled another forkful of pasta.

“You just have to get over it, Rob. You made your choice. Offer it up.”

Rob reached to pour the wine, but the waitress stopped at the table and took the bottle, poured more wine into their empty glasses. Rob thanked her, his eyes on her hands, that red scratch, the bottle firm in her clasp.

“No confession, huh?” Lawrence rested his chin on his fist, and grinned at Rob.

“’fraid not.”

They sat back as a busboy cleared their plates. Lawrence’s eyes followed the slender young man as he carried the plates away. Lawrence turned back to find Rob watching him. Rob clucked his tongue at his friend.

The waitress, returning with their coffee, smiled sweetly at Rob. He looked away, knowing that he must seem rude.

When she departed, Lawrence said, “She could have been another chip off your chalice.”

Rob said nothing as he poured the last of the wine.


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Genre – Romantic Suspense

Rating – PG13

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Connect with Julia Park Tracey on Facebook and Twitter

Blog http://modernmuse.blogspot.com/

Orangeberry Blast Off – Night Chill by Jeff Gunhus


Jack Tremont moves his family to the quiet mountains of Western Maryland hoping to leave behind a troubled past and restart his life. Instead, he finds himself caught up in a nightmare when his daughter Sarah is targeted by Nate Huckley, a mysterious and horrifying stranger driven by a dark power that will stop at nothing to possess Sarah.

When Sarah goes missing, suspicion falls on Jack and he must uncover the secrets of the small mountain town of Prescott City and face the evil secret hidden there. As he digs further, he learns the conspiracy reaches more deeply than he could have imagined. Finally, he will have to face the question, What is a father willing to do to save his child? The answer? Anything. Anything at all.

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Genre – Supernatural Thriller

Rating – PG13

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Connect with Jeff Gunhus on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.jeffgunhus.com/

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day – Aberration by Lisa Regan


FBI analyst Kassidy Bishop is assigned to the “For You” killer’s task force after a series of sadistic murders bearing the same signature arise in different parts of the country.

The homicides are both calculated and savage, occurring in different states, but bearing the same signature: the words “for you” scribbled at each crime scene. The case chills Kassidy, bringing back memories of her own encounter with a violent criminal five years earlier.
Kassidy’s mentor, legendary agent Talia “The Confessor” Crossen knows the task force assignment is Kassidy’s chance to prove to her colleagues that she belongs in the Behavior Analysis Unit. For five years, other FBI agents and profilers scoffed at Kassidy’s appointment to the BAU, believing she was only offered the position in exchange for her silence about the brutal assault that almost killed her.

The stakes rise when the task force links the killer’s signature to Kassidy. As more and more bodies turn up, Kassidy must delve into her past and the mysterious death of her twin sister, which holds the key to uncovering the killer’s identity.

The closer Kassidy comes to finding the killer, the closer she comes to a deadly confrontation that could cost her everything—including her own life.

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Genre – Crime Thriller

Rating – R

More details about the author

Connect with Lisa Regan on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.lisaregan.com/

The Garden by Paul T Harry



It’s got to be here somewhere, mused Adam as he studied the computer screen in front of him. Where was the breakdown occurring? Was it within the supplemental DNA coding? He raised his head and looked across the lab to see if his assistant, Jera, was having better luck. No . . . he was still busy at his own terminal.

Adam looked back at his console, his light blue eyes darting back and forth across the monitor screen. It should be here, he thought. Everything was working until now. He reread the DNA sequence that ran in block-like configurations across the entire screen. At the end of the array, he scrolled down to the next section, searching again through the chemical formulas that made up section 1044. It had to be here. Somewhere in this genetic mess was the minor disruption that had stopped their experiment cold. It was exasperating.

One by one, Adam reread each phrase, studying each link with no luck. He touched the screen and waited for the next supplement variation to appear, the light from the monitor reflecting upon his lightly hued violet skin.

“Why was the photosynthesis breaking down?” he pondered aloud. What was he missing?

With a frustrated shake of the head he looked over toward Nata, his lab assistant.

“Nata, I’m ready to look at the next section series. Would you correlate the molecular formula for Chromosome 17, sections 1045, 1046, and 1047, including the supplemental variations?”

“Certainly, Sir,” Nata replied, her voice cool and succinct. “Accessing the data now.”

Adam watched hypnotically as Nata’s twelve fingers fluttered over her keyboard like a musical instrument. She was fast—a virtuoso when it came to processing his needs and interfacing with the main computer. This was not unexpected. She was, after all, a Q-l hybrid Trifeme—the very latest in Gios bio-tech engineering—and specifically geared for their type of research. And not bad looking either—considering. Her pale green face was long and slender and off set with small, delicate features, while her lips were a soft yellow, and her hair dark and black. It reached passed her shoulders.

“Sir . . . ?” Nata queried softly. Her voice interrupted his musing. “The information you requested is on your screen.”

“Thank you,” he replied, shifting in his chair—it was back to work.

Once again Adam’s screen was filled with an endless chain of molecular formulas—DNA sequencing that stretched from top to bottom, illuminating a broken, one-celled protozoa that couldn’t process its own oxygen. He bent forward and began to review the new series when suddenly from across the lab he heard an excited yelp.

“I think I found the problem!” the voice cried.

Adam’s head shot up. From the other side of the lab, Jera was rising from the second series terminal and heading toward them. Almost running, he passed the main terminal sections linking the entire lab’s facilities. As he got closer, Adam could discern the grin etched upon Jera’s face.

“Thank Jhira,” he thought. “If he’s found the answer, maybe we’ll get out of here early tonight—fifteen hours is enough.”

Rounding the colax memory boosters, Jera bounded to a stop behind Adam and Nata. His lightly colored mauve face was flush with excitement and his long, black hair flew from his rapid approach. Adam smiled. Jera was always animated.

“What sections are you reviewing?” asked the younger scientist, breathlessly.

“Chrome’ 17, Section 1045,” answered Adam.

“Well you’re practically on top of it then. Move over to section 1046 and look at supplement “B-2110. That’s where we’re experiencing the disruption.”

Adam pushed several keys on the computer and highlighted the area that Jera had indicated.

“See, right there . . .” noted Jera, pointing to the screen. “. . . see where the breakdown of photosynthesis begins. I don’t think we’ve given the cell enough chlorophyll to keep it actively functioning in Krella’s environment.”

Adam traced the formula on the screen, analyzing Jera’s observation. “You may be right,” he finally responded. “The structure does tend to weaken within this phrasing. “Any suggestions on how to correct it?”

Jera rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “It seems to me that we haven’t compensated enough for energy output. I’d like to try increasing chlorophyll production by a factor of .00045. It should boost the energy levels sufficiently for cell reproduction without affecting heat dissipation.”

Adam studied the formula again analyzing the DNA supplement while considering Jera’s suggestion. “All right,” he said finally, sitting back in his chair. “Let’s give it a try. Nata, throw everything up on H.O.L.D.”

“Yes, Sir . . . coding now . . . Sir, its ready,” she replied a second later.

“Nata, please—call me Adam. You’ve been working here three months already. I think we can dispense with the formalities.”

Nata’s face flushed. “Yes Sir, I mean—Adam. Sir . . . H.O.L.D. is online.”

Adam turned and winked at Jera, who responded with a small chuckle. Poor Nata, she was an unbelievably good secretary and computer analyst, but her nature was almost seemingly inbred for unerring professionalism. Oh well, things could be worse.

Back to the business at hand, Adam rose from his console and walked with Jera to the Holographic Opticom Laser Display, or H.O.L.D. as it was referred to. The holographic screen loomed before them, its large, rectangular shape illuminating nearly thirty metrons of the lab’s west wall. Stopping in front of it, the two scientists gazed upon the project that they had been working on together for the last year and a half. There was a lot of sweat and hard work here.

H.O.L.D. was impressive. It was a computer interface, divided into three sections, each section measuring five metrons in height and ten metrons in width. Its primary function allowed DNA scientists, like Adam and Jera, to create and build new trial life forms, as sanctioned by the Genetic Research Academy. It was on this interface that DNA formulas could be projected and tested to see if they worked, before physical implantation. Contamination in a real world environment had to be avoided at all costs—no one wanted an errant microbe on the loose.

Adam studied the first section of H.O.L.D., the one closest to him and Jera. This was the primary code board for their DNA formula—it looked like a black chalk board filled with equations that were moving in sequence across the screen. It was here that the scientists could play with their formula, essentially “chalking in” their experimentation by hand with a laser pen. Once the data was entered, the Opticom would assimilate the input and the results would be projected over onto the next two screens. Already, this first section was crammed with data—a theoretical hypothesis for a new life form that the two scientists had been working on for months on end.

“Nata, enlarge and freeze Chromosome 17, section 1046, supplement “B-2110, on all screens,” instructed Adam.

“Immediately, Sir,” replied the secretary, her fingers flying.

Adam waited as Nata instructed the computer to correlate the three points of reference on H.O.L.D.. The first screen took less than a minute, the second and third a little longer. The two scientists watched as the colored DNA ladder on the second screen slowed, its three-dimensional graphics becoming deliberate.

The third screen was the last to fall to Nata’s instruction. And without a doubt it was the most impressive of the three screens. Displayed on its surface was the computer’s pictorial combination of the first two optic-screens. In this case, the image was a delicate singled-celled life form floating in a water-based life field. Eventually, it too slowed and stopped.

Adam nodded to Jera, “Go ahead and note the areas of change,” he instructed, “I’ll correlate from the main terminal.”

Jera crossed to the first screen and removed a zithron laser pen from his pocket. Making several quick parenthetical notations on the primary board, he noted for the computer where his changes were to be inserted, then waited as the formula separated, providing him with the blank space in which to write. As he made his notations, Adam correlated the information from his terminal, feeding the new data into the computer’s memory. After several minutes of writing, Jera finally stopped and checked his work.

“I think that’s it unless you have any suggestions.”

Adam looked up, “No, we’ll give it a try just as you’ve noted. Give me a second to initiate the parameter fields.”

Jera turned back to the screen and waited while Adam reactivated the computer’s main memory. Slowly, the first screen began to shift, coming back to life as the DNA equations on the primary board realigned themselves. Immediately after, the second screen followed suit and the DNA ladder reassembled itself, rebuilding on the new molecular patterns that Jera had written for its latticed framework. Finally, the third screen wavered and the single-celled protozoa pictured on its surface glided back into motion.

Both men watched the tiny entity pulsate and twirl, spinning in a circular fashion as the computer quickly rearranged its molecular makeup. Adam glanced down at the readout on the console. The changes Jera initiated seemed to be working. There was even an additional hint of chlorophyll in the cell’s translucent membrane wall.

“What’s the readout say?” asked Jera from the optic screen. “Any improvement?”

“Yes,” answered Adam, double checking the readout. “It says the photosynthesis has been raised to level +.00022. That should put the life form into an improved energy vector, considering Krella’s limited sunlight. Well, well, well, look at this. Not only is the photosynthesis up, but the oxygen output level has also been boosted—a factor of +.00013. Very nice. I think you’ve solved our problem. Perhaps with a little more work this little creature might survive on Krella after all.”

“Yes, but will it reproduce?”

Adam glanced up at his coworker and chuckled. “I’m sure we’ll find a way. And when we do we’ll submit a rough draft to the Genetic Examiners. If they find in our favor we might even get preliminary approval for a planetary implantation.”

“Wow,” replied Jera—he moved toward Adam. “What do you think our chances are? How does this life form compare to others you’ve worked on?” 

“That’s a difficult question to answer,” said Adam, suppressing a yawn. “After all, up till this point most of my experience has been on a theoretical level or as an under-sci working on simple, basic bacteria and viruses with other scientific teams. This is my first project beginning with conception and design, all the way to implantation. It’s been exhilarating to say the least, but we still have a lot to accomplish. And we’ve been lucky—our experiments have gone well. For this, I must give you a measure of the credit. Your assistance has been invaluable.”

“Thank you,” Jera replied.

“You’re welcome—and you too, Nata. Your skills here have benefitted us greatly.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“I just hope that we succeed in rising to the expectations of the genetics council,” continued Adam. He rubbed his eyes. “Krikla! It’s been a long day. I’m tired. What do you say that we wrap it up for the day and get a bite to eat?”

The other two were voicing their agreement when a tone unexpectedly sounded from across the lab. “I wonder who that’s for?” asked Jera.

“Allow me,” said Nata, rising. She crossed the lab and stopped in front of a small opt-screen near the lab’s entrance. Pushing several buttons, she activated the communication device which lit up to display the face of a silver-metallic opt-tech.

Nata addressed the device. “This is GRL-4171-15 responding to a communication signal.”

“Acknowledged,” responded the opt-tech. “Please hold for incoming communication.” It then responded with a message: “Mirra Directory to GRL-4171-15, a request is placed for Adam Korton #14-311 of the Genetic Research Academy. Private communications sphere is forthcoming. Do you wish delivery? A privacy code will be required in order to forward this communication.”

“Adam, it’s for you,” Nata called back to the scientists. “It’s a commsphere.”

“Have them sent it,” responded Adam, “use the lab’s sub-code to authenticate.”

Nata shook her head and encoded the lab’s numbers. Within several seconds another tone sounded signaling the arrival of the sphere. She turned off the screen and opened the small opaque door that sat under the unit. Inside was a small, iridescent pink orb about the size of a marble. Nata picked it up, feeling its warmth upon her fingers. She walked back to Adam and Jera and handed it to Adam.

“I wonder what this is about.” he reflected, setting the glass orb onto the memory port of his computer. The commsphere rolled to the center of the port’s saucer-like dish and came to a rest.

Pressing a button at port’s base, Adam waited as its clear shielding rotated out and around, encasing the orb. A small light went on and the device began to hum. Immediately, the orb rose into the air slightly where it bobbed and danced, balancing itself on the currents of magnetic waves that bathed its surface. It then began to whirl faster and faster, twirling like a miniature planet floating in space. A tone sounded.

Adam glanced at the monitor. It was requesting a personal access code. He began to type. Seconds later a message was streaming across his computer screen.

“Is everything all right?” inquired Jera, noting Adam’s raised eyebrow and inquisitive expression.

“Yeah,” replied Adam, glanced up, “Take a listen . . .” He put the message on audio.

The computer began to speak.

“. . . Adam Korton, citizen #14-311 of the Genetic Life Academy of the Planet Mirra is hereby requested to appear before the Metra Examiners at the Center for Governmental Direction, tomorrow morning at ten. This meeting will finalize the commencement proceedings regarding the disposition of the Terran Council.”

Jera whistled softly. “I don’t believe it—they’ve chosen you?”

“This is incredible,” interjected Nata.

Adam shook his head, looking at both of them. “Now don’t get your hopes up. This may not be what we think it is.”

“Ah come on, Adam!” exclaimed Jera. “Who are you kidding? We know the decision was due sometime soon.”

“True . . . but that doesn’t mean that Eve and I were actually chosen.”

“Speaking of Eve,” queried Jera. “Do you think they’ve contacted her?”

Adam shrugged. “She told me this morning that she was going to be wrapped up most of the day lecturing to a group of medical students on the Oconia system. It seems there’s been an outbreak of disease on several of the planets in the system, so they’re preparing a group of med-techs to inoculate the inhabitants.”

“Well, why don’t you give her a call?” suggested Nata. “Maybe she’s returned.”

Suddenly, as if on cue, the door at the end of the lab abruptly swung open revealing a tall, violet colored woman with shoulder length, light brown hair. She stood there for a second looking about the lab, finally catching sight of Adam’s waving arm.

“We’re over here,” he called out.

Eve moved across the lab, her white smock rustling crisply against her long, slim legs.

“Adam,” she called out breathlessly. “I just received a communiqué from the Metra.” She held up a small spherical orb for him to see. “Hi, Jera . . . Nata . . .”

“Yes, I got one too.” he responded.

“Do you think they selected us?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he answered, rising to his full height of seven metrons. “It’s possible.”

“Oh I do hope so,” she replied, hugging him tightly. “We’ve waited so long.”

Adam smiled and looked into his wife’s turquoise colored eyes. He could feel the excitement of the Metra’s news coursing through her body. He squeezed her and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, the thought of being selected by the Metra running through his mind. Perhaps ... he thought ... perhaps. It was the feel of Jera’s hand on his shoulder that brought him back to the moment.

“I can’t think of a more qualified couple than you two,” Jera commented. “Jhira’s blessings are with you. And I am definitely honored to have shared in your friendship and your research.”

“We’re being premature,” coughed Adam, slightly embarrassed. “Besides, even if we have been chosen there’s still a great deal of work ahead of us, and plenty of time before we’re ready to leave Mirra. At any rate, we don’t know for sure that we’ve been chosen.”

“Well even so, this calls for a toast,” said Nata. “Let me get the vin from the freonic and some glasses.”


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Genre – Sci-Fi / Historical / Contemporary

Rating – NC17 for explicit sex

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Website http://5moons.com/

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Stacey J. Mitchell – Beware the Procrastination Demons

Beware the Procrastination Demons

by Stacey J. Mitchell

Procrastination. It’s an evil word for any writer. According to Merriam-Webster, procrastination is ‘to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.’ It can happen for all sorts of reasons, but a lot of people link it with writer’s block. When the block happens, procrastination levels skyrocket.

Writer’s block is a tricky thing for me, as I don’t allow myself to believe in it. I think all writers have good and bad days, but it seems to me that as soon as you attribute a bad writing day to writer’s block, you’re paving the way for it to keep happening. It’s not making an excuse, exactly, but the way I see it, if I don’t acknowledge it, it can’t plague me! But that’s not to say I don’t indulge in healthy bouts of procrastination, because of course I do.

Procrastination is a dangerous thing as it can seriously affect productivity. Think about those days when you sit down at the computer and think, “Okay, time to start writing. But I might just check my emails first and then log on to Twitter quickly.” And then you see in your inbox that your blog has received some comments, so you think you had better just reply to them too—it’ll only take five minutes, and you might forget to do it later. And then, after you’ve spent half an hour on Twitter, you realise that you’ve wasted an entire hour (and I’m being conservative with my timings here).

So why do we do it? Considering we love what we do so much (allowing for the days when every word has to be dragged, kicking and screaming, from our minds), how come we allow ourselves to fritter away that precious time? I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but for me procrastination happens for two reasons. Firstly, I genuinely think that what I want to do will take less time that it actually will (and considering I always serve dinner fifteen minutes after I say it’ll be ready, I think this is true across many areas of my life!). I also don’t allow for the fact that I get led from one thing to another very easily. I’m like Dug, the talking dog in Up. He’s talking about something when suddenly, mid-sentence—squirrel!—and then he continues. I’m like that, but with tabs in my internet browser instead of squirrels.

The second reason I procrastinate has to do with tasks that I’m putting off, because I either don’t want to do them (ebook formatting) or because I’m unsure if what I’m doing makes sense (a plot twist or a scene that has turned out differently than I expected). The former is me wasting time instead of just getting on with a tedious task, and the latter has more to do with my insecurity as a writer than anything else. There’s another school of thought that says that any task will expand to fill the time available, so if you only have half an hour to write a blog post one day that’s fine. It’s the day when you have two hours to do the same thing that you’re in trouble, and the procrastination demons can come out to play.

I think to a certain extent we need to embrace procrastination, and accept that we will never be rid of it completely. I can turn the internet off and still find something else to do, other than what I’m supposed to. If there’s a window nearby, whatever is happening on the other side of that will do. If I’m in a public place like the library, people-watching is even better. The only way to stop myself procrastinating would be to shut myself in a small, plain room, with no windows, no internet connection, nothing. And as I’m certainly not about to do that, I just have to accept that I will always procrastinate to some extent. If you fight it, it fights back. Just look at it as a bit of creative downtime for your brain.


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Genre – Contemporary Fantasy

Rating – PG13

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day - The Passion of the Christoph by Christoph Paul

Visiting Speaker’s Corner

I can remember the carnival of sounds.

Speakers’ Corner in London, where anyone can talk about anything—except for the topic of the Queen, for talking about her, that would be undignified.

On that particular Sunday, I heard the first speaker say, “God is dead, we are all just gorillas, where the European apes have surpassed the African ones.”

I asked him how he came up with such a stupid theory. He remained polite, gave me a thoughtful nod, and said, “Nietzsche and science books.”

As a fan of both I felt saddened, but told him, “Well, you are the first racist I’ve met who likes to read. I’m from Florida.”

He then told me he could see the strength of my Italian blood and that Mussolini was “truly a great man.” I said, “Um, thanks, but that doesn’t make you any less wrong or less racist.”

He responded in a dignified tone, “Well, we will just have to agree to disagree like gentleman.” He then wished me a good day and gave me a strange bow showing me that British White Supremacists are just as stupid as the American ones—only way more polite.

I left the well-read racist and walked over to a tall blond man preaching to a large crowd. He was holding a Bible and wearing Wrangler’s and a cowboy hat, with a big cross around his neck.

He called himself the Christian Cowboy and had an American accent that sounded Texan. He said he was done preaching but wasn’t finished with the Lord’s Work and he encouraged us all to follow him into battle. We did, until we arrived in front of a group of Islamic Fundamentalists.

Three of them preached for the need for Sharia Law in England. As they quoted a verse from the Qur’an, the cowboy started to laugh and heckle them, calling them Satan’s fools and terrorists. The young Muslim leader with a prepubescent beard said the Christian was the fool and should feel shame.

The cowboy responded that the boy should be ashamed because he couldn’t grow a good enough beard for Allah.

I left the holy war and walked toward a short bald man waving his hands and screaming about how sexism was good and he was a proud misogynist. He shared the wisdom that all men are stupid these days because of too many female teachers. He said the worst thing was that American lesbians had reached England because The L-Word was in syndication.

He ranted for another twenty minutes until he finally admitted it had been a really long time since he’d gotten laid.

As his soapbox turned from misogynist to trying to get sympathy sex, I left him for a more moderate-sized crowd where a clean-cut looking man in his thirties praised the practice of being a vegetarian. He gave simple-to-follow solutions to ending world hunger, losing weight, and to stopping the harming of animals.

His speech was the most sensible one I had heard so far, but his voice was very monotone and he lacked stage presence. While the small crowd nodded and a few yawned, I noticed many of them kept looking to the right, where a British black man was wearing what looked like a Burger King crown, wearing the United Kingdom flag on his back like a Superman cape.

As the vegetarian man continued to talk about the dangers of cow flatulence, the small group moved away until we reached the self-proclaimed Caped Conservative.

He welcomed us but said we were most likely ignorant peasants who didn’t realize that the only way to restore England’s greatness was to make George W. Bush prime minster of England.

He spoke with great passion on why “Dubya” was one of the greatest leaders in the history of western civilization and how England should make him a dual citizen or even king.

Most laughed at him, but an older American woman gave me a concerned look, then grabbed my arm and said, “I’m really concerned for him . . . I think he’s the craziest of them all.”

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Genre – Humor / NonFiction

Rating – NC17

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A Study in Sin by August Wainwright

A wildly intriguing, intimately suspenseful story about the human capacity for good and evil – and what pushes us to inevitably, and often tragically, turn to our darker emotions for comfort.

Jacob Watts broke his neck in Afghanistan. Now he’s in D.C. with no job, a therapist, an uncontrollable tick in his arm, and PTSD. And he can’t pay his rent.

His new, and monetarily necessary roommate, Remy Moreau, isn’t helping either. Cold and detached, she might be a savant – but she’s also socially inept, has absolutely no boundaries, and is possibly dealing drugs out of their apartment. When the two come in contact with a stiff and blood-covered body in Capitol Row, the ambiguous Remy Moreau will lead him on an obsessive-compulsive hunt in pursuit of a tormented killer.

Can Remy, with Watts in tow, catch a murderer before he strikes again? And what are Remy’s real intentions with Watts? Is she even capable of anything resembling real human emotion?

A Study in Sin is a fast-paced modern update of a classic Sherlock Holmes mystery.

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Genre – Mystery / Thriller / Suspense

Rating – PG13

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Website http://augustwainwright.com/

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day - A Widow Redefined by Kim Cano

Chapter 1

Standing in the snow in front of my husband’s grave, I came to an unexpected realization. What used to be a romantic tribute had become something disconcerting.

As I kneeled down to lay a pink rose at the base of Justin’s headstone, I noticed a bouquet of yellow daffodils in the spot where I planned to place my flower. Daffodils? From whom? I tried to wrap my mind around why they were there, to solve a mystery I hadn’t anticipated.

Then a strong gust of Chicago wind slapped across my face. And with it came a new level of comprehension. Today was Valentine’s Day. These flowers were fresh.

Confused, I began to look around. I scanned the cemetery for others and saw a lone groundskeeper cleaning near the entrance. I dropped my rose and began running in his direction.

Arriving short of breath, I asked, “Have you been here long? Have you seen anyone else here recently?”

“No,” he said, eyeing me with caution. “I just come from break.”

Out of frustration I grasped for anything. “Okay, well is there a log of some kind? Of the people who come and go each day?”

My visitations had never been recorded. I knew this.

The man could see its importance to me, so he gave it some thought before responding.

“No,” he said. “No records.”

Disappointed, I stood there, staring at him. He gazed back at me, with a polite smile on his face. Then, after an awkwardly long pause, the groundskeeper’s look changed from pleasant to irritated. He mumbled something about being busy and walked away.

My mind began racing and I felt the pulse of a headache starting in the back of my skull. When I left work earlier, I’d been happy to find it wasn’t cold and gray. Driving into the cemetery, I had been captured by the particularly brilliant sunset; the sky blazed with pink and purple streaks.

Now, as I stood alone, the sky was dark.

Suddenly, I couldn’t leave fast enough. I began running toward my car, somehow managing to not trip or fall, then hopped in and slammed the door shut. A little flustered, I dropped my keys as I went to start the engine. I felt around and finally discovered them jammed between the front seat and center console. I pulled them free, started the car, then peeled out of the parking spot like a teenage drag racer.

As I turned left onto the main road to head home, I considered the possibilities. Maybe Justin’s parents were in town and had gone to the cemetery. They popped in from time to time, not always stopping by to say hello. The rare trip to see their grandson was the only reason they ever seemed to bother with me.

I knew it wasn’t my mom. After the funeral she never went back, although she was respectful of my visits, which were many over the last two years. Since the funeral, my routine—coming on holidays and his birthday—had always been the same. Only the seasons changed. But today my world tipped slightly off its axis, and I couldn’t help but recall what my older co-worker Barb had once told me, that the only constant in life is change.

Something in the pit of my stomach didn’t like it.

As I got closer to home, I tried to forget the flowers. I wanted to seem normal to my son, Tyler, and my mom. He’s only seven, and believed I was out visiting a friend. Mom, on the other hand, is quite perceptive. Nothing gets past her. Stressed out and feeling a migraine coming on, I turned right onto the street where I live.

“Hey honey, I’ve got your plate in the microwave,” Mom called out, after she heard me come in.

I set my keys and purse on the sofa, took off my coat and hung it up. Then I walked into the kitchen.

“Amy,” Mom said, “You look terrible. Are you okay? You have sweat beads on your forehead.”

I wiped my face with the back of my hand. “Oh,” I replied, “I’m fine, just a little cold.”

She gave me a funny look and put my food on the table. I sat down to eat right away, hoping she wouldn’t ask more questions. Then Tyler ran in.

“Mom. Grandma and I went to the library. I got a DVD on bugs of the desert southwest. You wanna watch it with me?”

“Sure honey.” I somehow managed to eat dinner and hold a coherent conversation, but the whole time I felt like I was sinking in quicksand. Luckily, no one seemed to notice. Afterward, Mom returned to her novel, and Tyler and I watched the bug program; at least it appeared like I did. Mostly I just stared at the TV while thinking about the daffodils.

“Scorpions are so cool. Don’t you think?” Tyler asked, interrupting my thoughts.

I despised bugs, but I didn’t want to disappoint my son. “Yeah, I guess they’re pretty neat,” I agreed. “You know, it’s almost time for bed soon. I’m going to take a bath, and then I’ll come and tuck you in.”

Tyler frowned but didn’t put up a fight. He was well-behaved that way. He put the disc back in its case while I left to go to the bathroom. Once inside, I dimmed the lights and locked the door. I turned the tub faucet on to as hot as I could stand it, added some aromatherapy salts, undressed and climbed in. As the water level grew, I sunk deeper into its protective womb. I closed my eyes and let the warmth slowly relax me. As so often happened when I relaxed, an old memory surfaced—one I try not to remember—of the day my dad moved away, leaving my mom and me for another woman. I was just a kid.

Tears began flowing down my cheeks and into the water. It was a silent sobbing so as not to disturb anyone else. Then my mind began to race again. Daffodils! Soon my head throbbed with unbearable pain. I couldn’t allow myself to think about any of it a moment longer, so I released the drain, grabbed a towel and climbed out.

I must have lost track of time, because when I went to tuck Tyler in, he was already in bed, asleep. I leaned over and kissed him on top of his head, then gently closed his door. When I got to my room, I noticed a bottle of Excedrin lying on the dresser, so I took two, without water, and collapsed into bed.

While lying in the dark, I decided to think of something happy. A good memory. A previous Valentine’s Day. Justin always took me to Francesca’s, our favorite Italian restaurant. I could almost see us sitting at a candlelit table, drinking wine and eating pasta.

Justin raised his glass, “Someday I’m going to take my kitten to Paris.”

I flushed. Even after years together, he still had that effect on me.

“We’ll eat at the Eiffel Tower restaurant for your birthday. Then we’ll go on one of those Seine river cruises. What do you think?”

“Say the word and I’m packed,” I said.

We spent the night talking, sharing tiramisu. Justin glowed with health and his blue eyes sparkled as he described plans to expand his carpentry business. Soon we’d be financially set. We’d be able to afford to travel the world together, like we always talked about. I don’t think I’d ever seen him more excited about anything as he was about this.

People shouldn’t die of cancer at thirty.

Every good memory eventually ended up there… in reality. There was no escaping it, no matter how hard I tried. And now there was the mystery of the daffodils. I didn’t know what to think, but I desperately needed rest if I wanted to make it to work in the morning, so I shut my eyes and willed my mind to stop racing.

I dreamt of Justin. We floated peacefully together on a lake in a rowboat. The sky was clear and the sun shone bright. He said something funny that made me laugh, causing me to lean over and clutch my belly. When I regained composure and tossed my head back up, still smiling, clouds had filled the sky. They had an ominous look about them, angry. Lightning sparked followed by loud claps of thunder. I looked at Justin, wondering what we should do, but his expression was blank. Then the waves grew choppy. All at once, swells the size of skyscrapers surrounded us. One moment we were in their trough, the next we ascended their foamy crest. Terrified, I looked over at Justin, seeking some kind of help. He remained blank-faced and unresponsive. Then, as we began descending back into the dark cavern of the wave, the boat tipped over, and I woke up, choking.


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Genre – Women’s Fiction

Rating – PG

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Website http://www.kimcano.com/

DA Serra – Screenwriting Versus Book Writing

Sreenwriting Versus Book Writing

by D.A. Serra

Since I have worked in both fields, I am frequently asked in what way screenwriting and novel writing differ.  When I teach writing workshops I always explain that reading a script happens with the eyes, and reading a book happens with the ears.  What I mean by this is, when someone is reading a screenplay they must visualize as they read in order to understand the work, whereas when reading a book, most of us hear the words in our heads.  Aren’t you hearing mine right now? There are so many differences in the way one writes for these two dissimilar mediums: each has pros and cons, each has value.

For screenwriters, attention to dialogue is considerably more critical to success than it is for narrative writing.  While accepting that the visual depiction of location and setting carry some of the story’s information, and can certainly be an element in creating tone, the majority of the story, in film and television, is communicated out loud in dialogue.  There are no relaxed sequences inside a character’s head where we learn expositional facts or get emotional information.   This puts significant stress on the authenticity of the vocabulary and the legitimacy of the characterization, while depending on the deftness of the writer to transfer expositional information without it sounding like little paragraphs that are out of time and place.  Alternatively, a novelist can wander around patiently inside a character’s head while he or she considers choices, or feelings, or reviews a memory.   So, while the novelist can ramble on in lovely prose about a seminal childhood experience, the screenwriter has little time, and many constraints, and must hit-n-run with emotion and information that feels authentic.

There is more freedom in narrative writing.  Screenwriter’s miss out on the satisfaction of exquisite sentences with lyrical language; there is no call for, or appreciation of, a metaphor that makes the reader gasp, or that puts a fist in one’s throat.  If that’s going to happen it had better happen in the dialogue or visually to be successful.  Screenwriters envy the novelist’s freedom: the non-existent restrictions as to form, structure, time, place, and length.  Screenwriters create inside a box with extremely rigid sides.  It is challenging, but rewarding.

Novelists envy the screenwriter’s fulfillment and satisfaction as their creations actually walk and talk; it is a thrill to see your character embodied.   Also, I have spoken to novelists at conferences who mention that they envy the screenwriter’s reach: a great television show or successful film may grab an entire nation at the same moment in time. It can drive the national conversation.  It is a powerful phenomenon and considerably rare in the book world.  I’ve also been told that some novelists are jealous of the collaborative camaraderie with other creative people (directors, actors, set design) which can be a true joy (or a complete nightmare), and some do wish for the economic benefits of screenwriting, which can be much more favorable to dental appointments and new shoes.

It was interesting to write Primal first as a screenplay and then a novel.  I saw these craft differences in play on the page daily.  I have to say I enjoy both types of writing – although currently I’m much more focused on my novels — at least until I need another pair of shoes.

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Genre – Thriller

Rating – R

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