Rachel Thompson

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Friday, June 7, 2013

Orangeberry Free Alert - EleMental: A First-Person Shooter - Steven O’Conner

EleMental: A First-Person Shooter - Steven O’Conner

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Science Fiction

Rating - G

4.6 (12 reviews)

Free until 11 June 2013

The future. It's all about friendship, love ... and dangerous video games.

New cover! Book 1 of the young adult sci-fi fantasy series. (This is the kindle ebook edition of the previously trade-published paperback EleMental.)

Winner of the Young Adult Fiction for manuscript development at Varuna Writers' House (Australia's only national writers' centre).

Bookseller+Publisher review:
'... a fantastic and exciting debut novel by Steven O'Connor ... entertaining mix of futuristic sci-fi, horror, action and angst ... this reads like Philip K Dick for teenagers. With the narrative sneakily shifting between the real and virtual worlds, O'Connor explores some fairly complex and sophisticated issues in a thrilling and accessible way.'Bookseller+Publisher, June 2010.

The story:

Willis, a loner not by choice, is gradually drawn into friendship with Zeb - cool and reckless - and into love with Arizona - bold and untouchable.

Set in 2050, the three teenagers encounter a deadly new virtual reality game called EleMental. Deliberately designed to be highly addictive, to control rebellious asteroid miners, EleMental has a byproduct no one was ready for: gameblur. One moment, you're at your desk, the next, you're battling something half-dinosaur, half-tank.

What Amazon reviewers are saying:

  • 5.0 out of 5 stars. 'Clever, fast-paced and brilliant. A masterpiece from a genius in this genre. I highly recommend this book.' (G. Bachelard)
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars. 'I bought EleMental for my 11-year-old son and he loved it. Intrigued, I read it myself. Highly recommended.' (Euan Mitchell)
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars 'I got this when it was in paperback. I really liked it. Now I see it's on Amazon as an ebook ... I'm getting it again.' (Angry customer)

If you enjoy fast-paced action, strong characters, and a fun writing style, then EleMental: A First-person Shooter is for you! Download a sample or buy the book today.

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby

Coming of Age

At an age when most of her friends had settled into routines of knitting sweaters and booties for grandchildren, Olivia Ann Westerly got married for the first time— to a man ten years her senior. “Are you out of your mind?” Maggie Spence shouted when she heard the news. “You’re fifty-eight years old!”

Of course doing the unexpected was something that could be expected of Olivia. In 1923 when she was barely twenty-five years old, she went off on her own even though her father insisted it was scandalous for a single woman to be living alone. “What will people think?” he’d moaned as she tossed her clothes into a cardboard suitcase. But that didn’t stop Olivia. She got herself a two-room flat in the heart of downtown Richmond and a job working at the switchboard of the Southern Atlantic Telephone Company. “That’s shift work!” her father said. “Some of those girls come and go in the dark of night!”

“So what?” Olivia answered. Then she volunteered for the night shift, because it paid an extra sixty cents per day. Long after any respectable woman would have been snuggled beneath a down comforter, she’d paint her mouth with red lipstick, pull on a cloche hat, and trot off to the telephone company. 

“Have you never heard of Jack the Ripper?” her friend, Francine Burnam, asked. “Have you never heard stories of women alone being accosted?” Married before her sixteenth birthday, Francine already had three children who clung to her like bananas on a stalk and a husband insistent about supper being served at six-thirty on the dot.

“That girl will be the ruination of our family!” Mister Westerly told his wife, but Olivia still stuck her nose in the air and went about her business. A year later when she was given a three-dollar raise and appointed supervisor of the night shift, her father disowned her altogether. The last thing he said was, “I want nothing to do with a girl who carries on as you do. A respectable daughter would be settling down with a husband and babies!”

“I’ve plenty of time for that,” Olivia answered, but by then her father had turned away and refused to look back.

“How much time do you think you have, dear?” her mother asked. “You’re twenty-six years old. What man would want to marry a woman of such an age?”

Olivia knew better. With her green eyes and a swirl of honey blond hair curled around her face, she had no shortage of boyfriends. Herbert Flannery, district manager for Southern Atlantic Telephone, had on three different occasions proposed marriage, the last time in the spring of 1929. That particular proposal followed on the heels of the worst winter Richmond had ever seen—months and months of ice crusted to windowpanes, and milk frozen before you could fetch it from the doorstep. In late December Olivia crocheted herself a wool scarf so oversized she could circle it around her throat three times and tuck her nose inside. Although she’d bundle herself in layers of sweaters, boots, and that scarf, she’d come in from the cold with her nose glowing like a stoplight and her feet near frozen. That winter there were few parties and people did very little socializing, so Olivia spent most of her evenings at home swaddled in a chenille bathrobe as she tried to stay warm. 

In March, a month when she expected the crocuses to pop up from the ground, there was a six-inch snowfall and the wind rattled the windowpanes so loudly that sleep became impossible. When it seemed that spring would never arrive, Olivia began to question the emptiness of her life. Three weeks later Herbert went down on one knee and offered out a small velvet box. She nodded and allowed him to slip the diamond ring on her finger.

Olivia was genuinely fond of Herbert, and when she promised to marry him it was with the utmost sincerity. But that was before they started to discuss the aspects of their forthcoming life together. “Won’t it be wonderful?” she said. “We can walk to work together every day.”

Herbert circled his arm around her waist and pulled her to him in a way that tugged her blouse loose from the band of her skirt. “Umm,” he hummed in her ear, making the same sound as a bee when it drains the nectar from a flower. “We’ll do just that,” he cooed, “until you’ve a bun in the oven.”

“Bun in the oven?” she repeated.

Herbert grinned and affectionately patted her stomach. “A baby,” he said, giving her a sly wink. “You know, a little tyke. A Herbert Junior.”

“I know what it means,” she replied testily, “but aren’t you rushing things just a bit?”

It was impossible not to notice the downturn of her mouth so Herbert smoothed the situation over by claiming he was, of course, referring to such a time as they were ready for the thought of raising a family. He kissed Olivia, but when she closed her eyes there in back of her eyelids was the image of a woman with the look of hopelessness on her face and a bunch of babies clinging to her skirt.  Olivia’s eyes popped open, and she snapped her head back.  “What if I don’t want babies?” she asked rebelliously. “What about my job?  There’s a good chance I’ll be promoted to the central office.”

“Babies are something every woman wants,” Herbert said.  “It’s the natural way of life.  Men work and women have babies.” He gathered her into his arms and held her close. “Don’t worry, sweetheart,” he whispered. “When the time comes you’ll be itching to grab hold of a baby just like every other woman.”     

Although she let it go at that a feeling of uneasiness started to settle in, and Olivia couldn’t dismiss it. Three days later she telephoned both of her older sisters and asked if such a thing was true. Yes, indeed, they’d each answered.  She then telephoned her mother and asked the same question. “Of course it’s true, sugar,” her mother said.  “As a young girl I used to imagine that someday I’d be singing at the Opera House in London, England. But after I married your daddy I got the itch, and then along came Robert. The following year it was Albert, and after him Bernice.” 

“But, Mama,” Olivia interrupted, “didn’t you think you’d missed out on something you truly wanted?”

“Think?” Her mother laughed. “With eight little tykes hanging on to me, I didn’t have time to think!”

It seemed that no matter who she asked it was the same story. “Bounce a baby on your knee, and you’ll forget about everything else,” Sara Sue said. 

“But,” Olivia questioned, “weren’t you planning to be a newspaper reporter?”

“At one time, maybe,” her friend said. “But once Willie came along…”

As the days went by Olivia started to imagine a heavy weight tugging at the hem of her skirt, and at night when she closed her eyes and waited to drift off to sleep she could hear a baby crying. One night she dreamt of sitting at the switchboard with a stomach so large and round that, try as she may, she could not reach across the tandem board far enough to connect a call. 

The following Saturday Francine Burnam stopped in for a visit.  Eight months ago she had added another one to her litter, and she was accompanied, of course, by all four children, the youngest of them howling like a banshee.  “He’s teething,” Francine apologized and jiggled the baby from one shoulder to the other. Olivia was about to suggest that Alma Porter used a piece of ice to soothe her baby’s gums, but before the words were out of her mouth Francine, who already looked like a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown, started to wail. “Oh, Lord!” She flopped down onto the sofa. “What have I let myself get into?”

“The baby crying has probably gotten you a bit frazzled,” Olivia suggested. “Once his tooth comes in, everything will be just fine.”

“Fine?” Francine exclaimed. “Fine?!  Maybe for you! You’ve got a job where you’re appreciated! Try taking care of four kids, and then see how you feel!”

Olivia was taken aback by the outburst. “But surely Joe helps?” she said.  

“Oh, yeah,” Francine answered. “He helps—helps himself to a piece of pie and tells the kids to shut up because the noise is giving him a headache. He’s got a headache. Ha, that’s a joke! He’s concerned about his headache, never mind that I’m the one who listens to their carrying on every hour of every day.”


“That’s not even the worst of it! Now that he’s got me knocked up with a fifth kid, I find out he’s carrying on with some redhead who works in his office. He bought that little whore a fur coat,” she moaned. “Imagine that! A fur coat, when I’m wearing dresses older than the kids.”

“If I were you, I’d divorce him,” Olivia growled.

Francine started to cry even harder. “Oh, yeah,” she sobbed, “and just what am I supposed to do with all these kids?” Just then Joe Junior, the eldest of the bunch, punched his brother in the face, and a new level of wailing ensued.

Suddenly Olivia could see the bars of an invisible cage, and she told herself that this was the truth of what happened. First came the itch, then the babies, then a woman was forever locked into a lifetime of drudgery. It happened to Francine, a woman who’d once worn chiffon dresses and polished pink fingernails, a woman who’d read poetry and loved music. It happened because Francine allowed it to happen. She’d donned a white satin gown and pranced down the aisle like a happy cow unknowingly headed for the slaughter house. If it happened to Francine, it could happen to anybody. 

Two weeks later Olivia slipped the diamond ring from her finger and returned it to Herbert. She claimed that although she cared for him, marriage was simply out of the question. 

“But, sweetheart,” he said bewilderedly, “have I offended you? Have I done something to cause such a change of heart?”

“No,” she answered. “I’ve simply come to the realization that marriage and children are not for me.” She then kissed poor Herbert and escorted him to the door, saying it was her hope they could remain friends.

“Friends?” Herbert replied, but by then she’d closed the door.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – PG13

More details about the author & the book

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Author Interview – Robin Mahle

What made you want to be a writer? I can’t really pinpoint one precise reason.  I’ve always been a creative person.  I wrote well in school and in college.  I could always convey my thoughts on paper with little effort.  Although writing fiction takes a great deal of effort.  I guess it just sort of happened.  I think the creative side in me finally took over the analytical, structured business person I had previously been.  I can tell you, I’m a much happier person being a writer.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? When you’re juggling a family and a small business (though my husband handles most of it now) it’s very difficult to make the time to write.  When I wrote Redwood Violet, I squeezed time in here and there over a span of 18 months.  That was far too long.  I wasn’t yet disciplined enough to set aside a specific time to write.  Since I’ve started work on the sequel, I’m much less involved in our business and I have more time to dedicate to writing, which I do at very specific times of day.

Have you developed a specific writing style? I’m still experimenting, to an extent.  I’m starting to play with points of view a little, just to see where it gets me.  But overall, I think my writing style is one that I’ve been told is easy to read, not overly cumbersome or wordy.  These were things I disliked in other books I’ve read, so I knew I wanted to avoid becoming that type of writer.  It just doesn’t suit me.  I prefer a quick pace and I think my writing reflects that.

How did you come up with the title? Originally, I wrote the story under a different title, Shadow Man.  It didn’t quite resonate with me and it wasn’t until I had nearly completed the first draft that I decided to rename it.  I found that my original title didn’t reflect the struggles my main character was facing.  Given the setting of the story, Redwood Violet just had more meaning for Katie, the main character.  I just researched the plants and flowers in the Redwood Forest and found that the Redwood Violet conveyed strength. It could grow in adverse conditions.  That appealed to me greatly.

Can you tell us about your main character? Katie Reid.  She’s in her late twenties and just beginning to build her life and her career.  She has a boyfriend, a good job and lives near the beach.  Not a bad life at all.  She’s still na├»ve but is learning the ways of the world.  And it isn’t until she discovers a very dark secret that she begins to transform.  We see Katie become desperate, hardened by the harsh realities of her past.  That desperation turns to obsession until the girl she thought she was is replaced by someone neither her boyfriend nor her family recognize.

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it? Personally, I learned a great deal about myself and my perseverance.  But not only that, this book required a fair bit of research, which I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed.  A friend of mine, whose husband was a high-ranking police officer for twenty years, read the story, just to confirm that my references to police procedure were accurate, or at least, mostly accurate.  I’m sure I took creative license on a few things.  That part was very exciting for me.

Katie Reid is living the quintessential Southern California life. A dream job and her college sweetheart, Spencer top it all off. However, she can’t seem to shake the terrible dreams that have been tormenting her nights these past few months.

After seeking help to find relief from the exhausting effects of these dreams, it becomes apparent that Katie is dealing with something much deeper and much more sinister. Her only solution is to delve into a past that no one wants her to remember.

With the horrific discovery of a dark secret kept hidden for years, Katie is drawn into a world mired in evil and lost innocence. And only with the help of Detective Marshall Avery will she be able to channel her pain and anger.

But, will he be able to contain Katie’s desire for vengeance that has begun to unravel her perfect life?

The first in a two-part series, Redwood Violet will keep you firmly in its grip and refuse to let go!

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Mystery  / Thriller / Suspense

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with Robin Mahle on Facebook & Twitter