Rachel Thompson

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

WHAT FREEDOM SMELLS LIKE #Excerpt by Amy Lewis @AmyLewisAuthor #Marriage #Women #Memoir

They have a special room on the ICU for people like me, so you don’t bother the other patients and visitors. Isolating the freshly widowed makes sense; I wouldn’t want to be around me either at that moment in time. You wouldn’t even know the room exists unless you need it. About a hundred square feet, a love seat sat on one side and two chairs on the other. There were two corner tables one holding a phone and on the other a small digital clock. The room had no magazines or TV as this wasn’t a waiting room. It was a mourning room, a breakdown room, a scream out to heaven because clearly God didn’t hear your prayers room. It was a break the news to the others room. It was a room for everything that everyone else didn’t want to witness – a parents losing child room, a children loosing parents room and in my case, it was a widow’s room.

I sat down onto the loveseat and tried to breathe. In and out. Innnn and Outttt. Innnn and Outttt. My head had a constant low level buzzing preventing me from holding a thought. Dad sat down next to me and held my hand tightly.

“Sweetheart” he whispered, “we need to make some calls.”

Calls. Calls. Calls. The word calls starting buzzing along with the noise in my head.

“Do it for me. Please. I just wanna sit here.”

He started by phoning Barbara. I had the awareness of him talking to her, but I don’t remember hearing the words. He hung up the phone. Decisions needed to be made. A young nurse walked into the room shutting the door behind her. I had never seen her before. She sat down next to me and put her arm around me.

“You know honey, in my experience with these things, it’s important for you to go in and see the body.”

The hair on my arm stood up as I heard her say the body. He was no longer a he. He was now just the body.


Diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder, Amy struggled with depression and an addiction to sharp objects. Even hospitalization didn't help to heal her destructive tendencies. It took a tumultuous relationship with a man named Truth to bring her back from the depths of her own self-made hell.Amy's marriage to dark, intriguing Truth was both passionate and stormy. She was a fair-skinned southern girl from New Orleans. He was a charming black man with tribal tattoos, piercings, and a mysterious past. They made an unlikely pair, but something clicked. During their early marriage, they pulled themselves out of abject poverty into wealth and financial security practically overnight. Then things began to fall apart.
 Passionate and protective, Truth also proved violent and abusive. Amy’s own self-destructive tendencies created a powerful symmetry. His sudden death left Amy with an intense and warring set of emotions: grief for the loss of the man she loved, relief she was no longer a target for his aggression.

Conflicted and grieving, Amy found herself at a spiritual and emotional crossroads, only to receive help from an unlikely source: Truth himself. Feeling his otherworldly presence in her dreams, Amy seeks help from a famous medium.

Her spiritual encounters change Amy forever. Through Truth, she learns her soul is eternal and indestructible, a knowledge that gives Amy the courage to pursue her own dreams and transform herself both physically and emotionally. Her supernatural encounters help Amy resolve the internal anger and self-destructive tendencies standing between her and happiness, culminating in a sense of spiritual fulfillment she never dreamed possible.

An amazing true story, What Freedom Smells Like is told with courage, honesty, and a devilishly dark sense of humor.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Amy Lewis through Twitter

JOHN SMITH : #Microsoft Wars (#Excerpt) by Roland Hughes #AmReading #Fiction #Dystopian

SK:      Can we talk about the Microsoft Wars now?
JS:       Orwell was right.  Everyone was forced to read his book and yet, it still happened.  In reality, that is all anybody needs to know.
SK:      Orwell?
JS:       <sighs> Back in 1949, an author by the name of George Orwell published a novel titled 1984.  It was a look into the future and basically created the concept in society of Big Brother.  This Big Brother was a government, any government really, which would watch over you like a child.  Your life would be monitored and controlled 24 hours per day.  The dictionary would not grow in size, but shrink, as words and thoughts were continually restricted.  Anyone who possessed a thought against the government, system or the way things were being run would be turned in by friends/family/neighbors as a thought criminal.
One by one, various ministries were set up to control every aspect of life, all for the betterment of society, and most had some plausible excuse bringing them into existence.  There would be monitors installed everywhere, so you were continually watched and controlled.  It was one of the best- selling and most widely talked-about books of all time.  Many movies were created showing various flavors of the book.
SK:      Well, if everybody knew about it, then it surely didn’t happen.
JS:       Not in 1984, no.  The final vehicle for control wasn’t  chosen until the early 1990s and it took a while to roll out globally.  Sometime during 2010, the governments around the world achieved 95 percent of what they wanted.  The vast majority of citizens carried with them a 24-hour monitoring device, which could be accessed remotely and would, via GPS, give a complete picture of their travels.  Each one had a unique ID.  Best of all, the devices were marketed in such a way as to make people think they were nothing unless they had one and kept it with them at all times.
When it became apparent that some portions of society simply couldn’t afford the devices—yes, each citizen paid for their own, and gladly…they even paid to customize them—most governments came up with some kind of ministry or program to ensure each and every person falling into the “cannot afford” category was issued one under some plausible story as “medical need” or “neighborhood watch.”  This removed the poor-person-rejection-of-charity problem.  Nobody felt insulted to receive the devices, since the devices allowed them to communicate with anyone at any time, as long as they knew the other person’s unique ID.
SK:      Do you honestly expect me to believe that everybody stood in line to get a unique ID for the government to monitor them 24 hours per day, seven days per week?
JS:       No. They didn’t see it like that. They stood in line to get the latest and greatest cellphone with video camera, GPS, speaker phone, Internet access, and every other buzz phrase marketing could think of.  If you don’t know what any of that is, it doesn’t matter.  All you need to know is the more applications, called apps, it had, the more people wanted it.
Each phone had to have a phone number, which was globally unique so anyone in the world could call anybody else in the world, no matter where they were at the time. It was that “anywhere, anytime” communications capability that was a major selling point. A system of assigning phone numbers to allow for international calling had been in place for many years due to the older land line system, so it was simply leveraged.
Everyone proudly carried and used their government monitoring device.  There were even crime shows on television showing how law enforcement agencies could track a cellphone as long as it was turned on.  What they didn’t tell you was that the phone would periodically report in even when turned off, and if certain instructions were waiting, it would turn itself back on, silently, so full monitoring could continue without the owner being aware.
The only thing that could truly stop monitoring was to remove the battery, then turn the cellphone on to drain the hidden reserve.  When you did that, however, the phone was of no use.
SK: So let me get this straight—you’re saying that there was a communications network that could monitor every person in the country?
JS: No.  Before the middle of 2011, thanks to some production cost reductions, it was every person on the planet living in any civilized country and even many third world countries.  A basic cellphone could be manufactured and sold for under $20 retail, which put the actual production cost at about $6.  Those countries too poor or with terrain too rough used the satellite phones, which cost a bit more, but leveraged cellphone components to reduce costs.  Both networks were monitored by government agencies, even though commercial companies were providing the services to the cellphone owners.  Even children in third world countries who didn’t have food to eat or a bank account in their name had a phone so they could be tracked.

“John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars” is one big interview. It is a transcript of a dialogue between “John Smith” (who, as the title of the book implies is the last known survivor of the Microsoft wars) and the interviewer for a prominent news organization.
Buy Now @ Amazon & B&N
Genre – Dystopian Fiction
Rating – PG
More details about the author

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mike Hartner on The Eternity #Series - An Epic Saga of Good vs. Evil @MHartnerAuthor #HistFic #AmReading

What Inspired Me to Write This Book

This book is the second in a series of books called The Eternity Series.

The Eternity Series has several inspirations.

The first inspiration is to show that each life, each person, is different. We all have our crosses to bear, and how we overcome them determines who we are as a person. Whether we blame everyone else and fester in the crap that we are given by fate, or overcome the challenges and have a good life is up to us.

The second inspiration is to show that nobody’s life is perfect. Everyone has challenges. And appearances are not always what they seem.

More than that though, The Eternity Series is an epic saga of good vs evil, of man’s desire to survive and thrive, and of what we can be if we come together.


James Crofter was ripped from his family at age 11. 
Within a year the prince was a pauper in a foreign land. 
Is nature stronger than nurture? And even if it is, can James find the happiness he so richly desires? 

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Historical Fiction, Romance
Rating – PG
More details about the author
Connect with Mike Hartner on Facebook & Twitter

Friday, December 12, 2014

DARK CHEMISTRY #Excerpt by Kirsten Mortensen @KirstenWriter #AmReading #Suspense #Romance

This excerpt, from chapter 4 of Dark Chemistry, introduces Donavon Todde, the man who destined to fall in love with the novel’s protagonist, Haley Dubose. He actually encounters her in this scene, although he doesn’t know who she is—the woman who’s about to assume control over the company where he works; the woman who is now his boss. Instead, as you’ll see, Donavon is wrapped up in a personal struggle that consumes him with emotional pain and humiliation. When we meet him, here, he’s flying home from a fruitless trip to Las Vegas . . .

Donavon set his iPhone on the bar.

What kind of a loser—

Damn it, damn bartender walked by again without looking over. What was that, the third time? Because bartenders in airport bars don’t make eye contact. Of course they don’t. They don’t believe they’ll ever see you again. For them it’s just a shift, just get through the shift, they’ll never see anyone in here again, if they get good tips they get good tips, if they don’t, so what? It’s a job, hourly, benefits. It’s not about relationships, like in a real bar ...

Donavon waited, watching, for the guy to come back over to his end of the bar. Good, he’d turned, he was heading this way ...

What kind of a loser does it take to—

“Another Sam Adams, when you get a minute.”

The bartender nodded at Donavon, but without smiling. It was a “yeah, I heard you” nod.

Donavon checked his phone again.

No messages.

“Is this seat taken?”

“No.” Donavon smiled at the woman who had spoken to him, sizing her up. Shoulder-length hair, no discernable gray, but a little crinkling around her eyes as she smiled back at him. Forties, he’d say. Mid-forties.

The bartender returned with his beer. “Menu?” he said into the air between them, and the woman said yes and asked him what sort of white wine he had, and ordered a Pinot Grigio.

“Lucky you got him,” said Donavon. “He’s a busy guy.”

“Eh, he can take all the time he likes—my flight’s been delayed until at least 7:30, apparently.”

“Yeah? Where you headed?”

“Rochester, New York. You?”

Of course. They were in Concourse G, the spot where the little planes land and take off, the planes headed to the little airports.

Too bad she wasn’t flying to Syracuse. He could use a distraction ...

The woman was checking her phone now, sending a text message, but then when she got her wine she put her phone away and turned slightly toward him. Good—she was a friendly one. “Syracuse, eh?” she said. “So what do you do?”


“Oh yeah? What company?” Smiling at him.

“RMB.” He felt himself relax as he spoke. “We’re a small chemical manufacturing plant nobody’s ever heard of, that makes stuff that other companies—companies you have heard of—put into their products.”

“What kind of products?”

“Cosmetics mostly—shampoo, lip balm, that sort of thing.”

“So is RMB based here in Chicago?” She sipped her wine, and he noticed her left hand.

No wedding ring.

Maybe he should date someone older. Maybe an older woman would be easier, less drama ...

“Nope,” he said. “It’s south of Syracuse. But as you know, if you fly to Rochester a lot, there aren’t any direct flights. I spend half my life in O’Hare. Is Rochester home for you?”

“Yes. So where are you coming from, this trip?”

“Vegas,” he said without thinking, and then wished he’d lied.

“That’s a fun town. So did you win, or lose?”

“Broke even, more or less,” he said. “Or anyway,” he struck a jovial note, “that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.”

She smiled again, then flagged the bartender and ordered a chopped salad with chicken, and Donavon asked for his check, then watched out of the corner of his eye as the woman fumbled through her purse, took out a little bottle of Purell, opened it, and rubbed it into her hands.

“How about you?” Donavon asked as she recapped the bottle and dropped it back into her purse. “What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

“No kidding. That’s interesting. What do you write? Books? Or ...”

“A little bit of everything. Stories, novels. But I pay the bills with corporate contract work. Marketing brochures, that kind of thing.”

A man’s voice came on over the terminal intercom and the woman paused, listening.

“Syracuse,” she said. “Is that you?”

Donavon nodded and pushed his stool back. “Yeah.”

“Well, have a nice flight.”

“I’m Don, by the way,” he said and held out his hand.

“Christine,” she said.

Her hand felt small and clean from the Purell.

He slung his duffel bag strap over his shoulder. “Good luck on your flight.”


Old enough to be his mother, almost. But maybe that’s what he needed—someone older, someone who had dealt with all her baggage, who would be grateful for the attentions of a young stud. And she was well-preserved. Trim, probably worked out. Pilates, probably, or spinning ...

So that’s it, Donnyboy?

That’s how you’re going to cope? By hitting on anything that moves?

He shook his head, trying to shake off the thought.

You get dumped, so you hate yourself, and then you cope by becoming a person you’ll hate even more?

He reached his gate and stepped into the plume of people waiting to board.

He pulled his boarding pass out of his back pocket.

There was a blond just off to the side, a little ahead of him. Her back to him. She was wearing those tight blue jean jeggings that show off every curve, black leather boots up over her calves—he let his eyes move up and down, lingering.

Yeah, now that—that was a morsel. Had to be at least an 8 or 9 ...

He shifted forward to get a glimpse of her face, her profile. Fine, like a porcelain doll. Easily a 9. Stupid, no doubt, but that was all the better. Yeah, this was exactly what the doctor had ordered. He should move in, now ... it would be easy. Let her know he had a job, strike the right balance between suave and aloof, flirtatious and superior ...

An older couple stepped in front of him, blocking his view of the blond, interrupting his thoughts, and his mind flashed back again to Vegas.

How many times had he made that trip?

And why?

What kind of a loser does it take to keep flying back out there? You know you’re not going to just run into her. And even if you did—then what? It’s done. She chose.

They’re probably fucking married by now.

What kind of loser does it take to keep chasing after a woman who is long fucking gone?

Donavon handed his boarding pass to the agent and waited as he scanned it. No beep. The agent scanned it again, and again, and finally the scanner beeped and Donavon took the ticket back and started up the jetway.

Goddamn it, they’d better have beverage service on this flight.


A woman's worst nightmare

Drugged by something...that makes her think she's fallen in love.

All Haley Dubose has ever known is beaches and malls, clubs and cocktail dresses.

But now her father is dead.

And if she wants to inherit her father's fortune, she has to leave sunny Southern California
for a backwater little town near Syracuse, New York. She has to run RMB, the multimillion dollar
chemical company her father founded. And she has to run it well.

Keep RMB on track, and she'll be rich. Grow it, and she'll be even richer. But mess it up, and her inheritance will shrink away before she gets a chance to spend a dime.

Donavon Todde is her true love. But is it too late?

He's RMB's head of sales – and the more Donavon sees of Haley, the more he's smitten.
Sure, she comes across at first as naïve and superficial. But Donavon knew Haley's father. He can see the man's better qualities stirring to life in her eyes. And Donavon senses something else: Haley's father left her a legacy more important than money. He left her the chance to discover her true self.

Donavon has demons of his own.
He's reeling from a heartbreak that's taking far too long to heal. But he's captivated by this blond Californian, and not only because of her beauty. It's chemistry. They're right for each other. But has Donavon waited too long to woo this woman of his dreams? Because to his horror, his beautiful Haley falls under another spell. Gerad's spell.

A web of evil.

Gerad Picket was second-in-command at RMB when Haley's father was alive. And with Haley on the scene, he's in charge of her training. But there are things about RMB that Gerad doesn't want Haley to know.

And he must control her. Any way he can.

Romantic suspense for your Kindle

Will Haley realize that her feelings are not her TRUE feelings?
Does Donavon have the strength left to fight for the woman he loves?
Will the two of them uncover Gerad's plot to use RMB pheromones to enslave the world?
And even if they do – can they stop it?

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Romantic suspense
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Kirsten Mortensen through Facebook Twitter

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

John W. Mefford on Listening to His Inner Voice and Leaving the IT Industry @JWMefford #Mystery #Suspense

I look in the mirror, and what do I see? Extra lines, less hair, a little more weight, depending on my current level of fitness. Time stands still for no one. And, if you’re open to growing, learning, that’s a good thing. A very good thing.
By looking at that reflection—literally and figuratively—I’ve seen more changes than I can possibly count over the years. With more salt than pepper in my goatee, my facial hair shows some tread on my tires. Muscle strains, joint pain, squinting to read small print, all come with living a full life year after year for almost five decades. And don’t get me going about my torn rotator cuff. But it certainly beats the alternative.
I’ve never been one to hide my age, starting when I was a young kid, and looking even younger. I always had a stubborn, driven core that pushed me to work hard, even if the task or nature of the job was unappealing, or even if it made me want to puke. In my teenage years I built banana splits and flipped burgers, then mowed yards in triple-digit temperatures. Once I made it out of college, I worked long hours trying to scoop my rival reporter at the cross-town newspaper—my first paying gig in the writing world. But my drive and competitiveness hit an advanced level once I hit the grind of corporate life.
Information Technology was the field, the very hot field that sucked me in like an F5 tornado. It’s a remarkable industry, with an amazing array of talented, visionary people, especially in the early days, before anyone had used the term start-up.
From day one, I never quite felt comfortable working in IT, and most of the time truly felt out of place. Technology has never been a keen interest of mine. I had a few talents that helped me along the way…I’m pretty good with numbers and motivating people to get stuff done, even if I didn’t truly understand the nuts and bolts of what the hell we were trying to accomplish. It didn’t matter. I was told to break through the brick wall, and I did anything to reach the goal. I was about the best grinder around. Many were smarter, but few worked as hard. I never let my brain relax, because I couldn’t afford to.
And then I woke up. It wasn’t an overnight epiphany. I had internal struggles for years, my true voice softly telling me to find a job or business that suited me. It took a good ten years for me to take action, to recognize that little voice as my true self.
I have a friend who knew what he wanted to do when he was fourteen years old, maybe younger. He dreamed of working as a nuclear physicist. I’m not kidding. He was—is—brilliant. He wanted it so badly he could taste it. He talked about it all the time, studied everything about that world, and mapped his path toward his destiny.
Outside of dreaming to play for any number of sports teams, while growing up I could never figure out what I was destined to do with my life. Working as a reporter allowed me to work a muscle that I’d never used. The job itself was bit confining, but it ignited a creative spark in me that stayed alive like the Olympic flame. Then came the IT gig.
It was all meant to be…to provide life experiences that have taught me plenty, that I can share with others, my family, and, yes, write about in the most unbridled, embellished way possible. It’s empowering to finally admit the truth about who I am, how I want to contribute to the world, to evoke emotion from readers of my work. Is it a mid-life crisis? That’s not how I see it. I don’t want to buy a red sports car, I love my wife more than ever, and I have great fulfillment by watching three kids grow up and figure out life.
Instead, I’ve experienced a mid-life enlightenment. I might be in my late forties, but it’s better to admit who you are and what you’re passionate about before there’s no life left to live.
My only advice to my kids and anyone else of any age? Listen to your true self. Find your passion and then don’t hide it. Work like hell to be better at it, and be proud of who you are and how you impact the world.
It’s funny how things work out in life. My friend? Well, the government shut down funding for the super-collider, and after investing seven years of college and low-paying internships in cold-weather cities, his dreams of making a living as a nuclear physicist were flushed down the toilet. Now, though, he’s one of those visionary, brilliant people in the IT industry. He’s damn good at it, and I think he enjoys most of it. Bravo for him!
As for me, I’m a writer. I think I’m pretty damn good at it, and I’ll work my ass off to get better. That’s my passion. I hope you find yours.

Behind the façade of every corporate takeover executives pull levers this way and that, squeezing the last profitable nickel out of the deal. But no one knows the true intent of every so-called merger. 

No one knows the secret bonds that exist. 

An Indian technology giant swallows up another private company that has deep roots in North Texas. For one unassuming man the thought of layoffs, of losing his own job to a bunch of arrogant assholes feels like a kick to the jewels. 

Until the day Michael’s life changes forever.   

Perverse alliances. An affair of the heart. A grisly murder. A spiraling string of events thrusts Michael into a life-or-death fight to save a tortured soul and hunt down a brutal killer…one who lurks closer than he ever imagined. 

Greed knows no boundaries.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Suspense, Thriller
Rating – R
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Prologue from HUSH by Kimberly Shursen @KimberlyShursen #Goodreads #AmReading #Thriller

June 21, 1997 

Thirteen-year-old Ben Grable stared out the window of his father’s car. He wished he could close his eyes and be somewhere—anywhere else—just not on the way to the nursing home.He hated today.

Every Sunday, his father dragged him to visit his grandmother. Two years ago, the woman who had laughed at all of his jokes, baked him chocolate chip cookies, and played Chutes and Ladders with him growing up was given a death sentence. It wasn’t fair to his Nana or the people who watched her die an inch at a time.

“Come on, son,” his father said when he parked his car in the lot. “Put on that smile your Nana loves to see.”

The one-story, all-brick building sat on an acreage surrounded by pine trees. The scene was serene, but the moment Ben stepped inside, the smell of urine and decay was overwhelming.

Old people with crinkled faces and withered hands who had shrunk to a portion of their original height sat in chairs lined against the wall saying nothing. Nothing. The years had sucked the life and voices out of them. Nursing assistants offered cookies and a smile along with a pat on the patients’ decomposing backs and told them it was a beautiful day. What did they care if the sun was shining or a tornado was about to sweep them away? Every moment of each day was the same. Pain. Loneliness. Humiliation. And fading memories of who they once were.

“Nana?” Ben said, and walked to the elderly woman sitting in a wheel chair that faced the window. Even before he reached her, he noticed the spastic movements of her hands and head were worse. He bent down next to her in the room the size of his closet, a crucifix hanging on one wall.

Her tired, puffy eyes stared at him, and Ben’s heart sank when he realized she didn’t recognize him. He could have been Batman or a poodle, and she wouldn’t have known the difference.

After a few minutes of trying to understand what she was saying, Ben turned to his father. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

His father gave him an understanding nod.

He’d wandered down the hallway, blinking back tears of anger and pain. Angry that his grandmother was never going to get better and the pain of knowing he’d already lost her.

On the other side of the nursing home, he spotted another set of double doors. Staring inside, the hair on the back of his neck stood on end.

Babies, children, and young adults filled the long, narrow hallway; some lay flat on their backs on bare mattresses, their heads rolling back and forth in slow-motion succession. Others traipsed the floor mindlessly with unblinking, glazed eyes, their backs hunched over. Heads too large for their bodies—slanted eyes, some missing limbs, a couple with wide, open gashes in their upper lips. Where did these monsters come from, and why were they here?

Nurses changed diapers, or knelt beside mats and held baby bottles for children who looked as old, or older, than Ben. Long, guttural moans and helpless cries filtered through the doors, the smell of feces was disgusting.

He jumped when he felt something touch his shoulder.

“Sad, isn’t it?” a young nurse said.

“What’s wrong with them?” Ben asked, tasting his own sour bile.

She shrugged her shoulders. “Different things. Most were born this way, and their parents just couldn’t take care of them.”

“Why are they here? In a nursing home?”

“Part of the building is for a nursing home and”—she nodded to the other side the window—“this part is controlled by the state. There are so many nursing homes for old people and not enough institutions for people like this that a few months ago we started taking in the overflow.”

“Will they ever get better? Go home?”

The nurse shook her head. “I’m afraid not. This is the only life they’ll ever know.”

When he looked back through the windowed door, he gasped and jumped back. On the other side of the window, only inches away from his face, a pair of eyes pleaded with Ben for help.

“It’s okay. They won’t hurt you,” the nurse told him.

Ben shook his head back and forth slowly, tears welling in his eyes. He turned and raced through the halls toward the front door of the building. The face on the other side of the door burned into his memory—the bulging, watery eyes, the slobbering drool running down the glass, the hopeless and far-away look of misfortune and doom.

Heart racing, his temples throbbing, he was going to vomit. Breathless when he reached his father’s car, he found it locked. Panicked, he pulled at the handle over and over. “Open, please, open!” he sobbed uncontrollably.

He turned, leaned back against the door, and slowly sank to the concrete. If his friends saw him, they’d call him a sissy-boy. It didn’t matter. Those things, those sad, awful looking creatures weren’t human. His parents had always told him that all of God’s children were created equally. But it wasn’t true.

He brought his knees up to his chest and covered his tear-streaked face with his hands, trying hard to get the images out of his mind.

It just wasn’t true.


Soon after Ann Ferguson and Ben Grable marry, and Ben unseals his adoption papers, their perfect life together is torn apart, sending the couple to opposite sides of the courtroom.

Representing Ann, lawyer Michael J. McConaughey (Mac) feels this is the case that could have far-reaching, judicial effects -- the one he's been waiting for.

Opposing counsel knows this high profile case happens just once in a lifetime.

And when the silent protest known as HUSH sweeps the nation, making international news, the CEO of one of the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the world plots to derail the trial that could cost his company billions.

Critically acclaimed literary thriller HUSH not only questions one of the most controversial laws that has divided the nation for over four decades, but captures a story of the far-reaching ties of family that surpasses time and distance.

*** Hush does not have political or religious content. The story is built around the emotions and thoughts of two people who differ in their beliefs.

 EDITORIAL REVIEW: "Suspenseful and well-researched, this action-packed legal thriller will take readers on a journey through the trials and tribulations of one of the most controversial subjects in society today." - Katie French author of "The Breeders," "The Believer's," and "Eyes Ever To The Sky."

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
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Friday, November 28, 2014

#Excerpt from "The Girl Who Came Back to Life" by Craig Staufenberg @YouMakeArtDumb #MGLit

Sophie woke at the table the next day before the sun rose and let habit and obligation drag her from her seat and pull her to the bakery. Setting her body in front of the floured marble table and searching her chest, she found a hole where her heart used to beat, and when she dove into this abyss she felt something close to cold, but far from feeling itself.

That morning her dough would barely budge when she touched it and the loaves she handled wouldn’t rise an inch and the bread she placed in the oven left their fires cold and flat and dead no matter how long they spent among the flames.

The baker saw this and responded to her as if she were a stubborn slab of dough. She pressed patiently and consistently and with constant motion, asking Sophie this and that, pushing and pulling at her, all without mentioning her failures, without forcing a point, yet unrelenting and unwilling to toss her to the side.

Yet despite this care, by the end of the morning, Sophie’s failures at the simple, mundane tasks built up and tore through her. Her frustration broke as she pulled a final frozen lump from the fired oven and a small tear arrived in her eye as she held the uncooked dough in front of her chest.

The baker stepped over to her and took the dough from Sophie and placed it on the table with a thud. She admonished Sophie, without any hint of anger or malice, “Cry if you need to, but don’t cry into the bread.”

Sophie stood there, that single tear still caught within her eye, her arms and hands still held up in front of her. The baker took each of Sophie’s raised, empty arms, one at a time, and placed them down at her sides. She took one of her own weathered hands and guided Sophie to the table and pulled up a stool and motioned to Sophie to sit. Sophie set her elbows down on the floured marble table and leaned across its surface.

The tear finally fell from her eye and dropped down onto the table, creating a little wet crater in the flour that lay sifted across the top of the marble table. The baker reached out a thumb and smudged the crater across and smiled to herself, then went to the front of the shop and picked up a small olive loaf from the day-old bin. She held it in one of her hands and opened the oven door with the other and let a whiff of the blasting hot air spill out and wash over Sophie. The baker commanded her, “Take out some butter, if you would.”

The baker reached her hand into the oven and held the loaf above the flames for a moment as Sophie walked to the side counter and pulled out the pan of thick yellow butter that sat there. She brought it to the table and returned to her seat.

The baker left the oven door open, warming the room. She pulled up another stool and sat next to her and placed the now-steaming loaf down. The woman tore off a chunk and slathered it with the rich butter, which melted on contact and found its way into the bread’s hidden corners. She handed the bread to Sophie, then she tore off and buttered a second hunk for herself.

Sophie took a bite of the bread, and that bite sank into her. The half-stale loaf crunched in her mouth and the butter pressed through her body as surely as it soaked through the bread.

As they ate for a moment in silence, the baker continued to pull off pieces of the bread and butter them, handing one to Sophie first then taking one for herself. She ate in silence as the dry heat of the oven filled the back of the shop, until Sophie broke the quiet and spoke first. She apologized for her shoddy work.

The baker nodded her response. “It’s alright. I had a lot of bad days too when my parents died.”

Sophie looked over at the sturdy woman with surprised eyes and asked when the woman’s parents had passed.

The baker replied with a soft smile, “Some time ago. I was a little older than you but I was baking by that point… and for a long time my bread wouldn’t rise either.”

The baker deepened her smile as she lifted her hunk of bread into the air and inspected it for a moment, then took a bite and continued as she swallowed, “Clearly it was a temporary problem.”

Sophie couldn’t stop herself from laughing. She asked the woman what fixed her troubles.

The baker thought for a moment. “Time.” She placed her elbow on the table and scratched at her cheek. “As the days passed I found myself again.” She paused, her finger rested against her cheek. “But my bread wasn’t this good again until I went north and Sent them.”

Sophie looked over and was about to speak but the baker stood up and cut her off firmly. “Come. We need to open the shop.”

The baker gathered the few loaves she managed to salvage from Sophie’s empty heart and sighed out loud, “Here’s hoping for a slow day…”

She smiled then pushed her to clean the oven, as she always did, and from there the afternoon proceeded as it always had. Sophie took on her chosen chores, straightening the shop, cleaning, organizing and restoring order as the baker took her seat at the counter where her customers purchased their bread. When her grandmother arrived, Sophie avoided her gaze. Aside from a lingering moment when the baker stepped to the desk and spoke for a moment longer than usual to the old woman, the day proceeded as it always had, right until the sun began to set and the baker asked Sophie and her grandmother to come to the counter to receive their day’s wages.

The old woman placed her payment in her purse, and as she stood for a moment to wait for her granddaughter to receive hers, the baker told the wrinkled woman, “I need to speak with Sophie for a minute longer, you don’t need to wait for her.”

The old woman nodded and said goodbye and left through the shop’s swinging doors as the baker asked Sophie to stand there for a moment. She held still and watched as the woman came out from behind her counter and walked through the shop, examining the little touches Sophie added to it throughout the afternoon. The baker inspected the organized loaves and gave a small approving nod, then examined the swept floor and made a minor appreciative grunt, then noted the neatly stacked bags of flour with a lingering look, before she returned to the counter and opened her drawer and began to count out Sophie’s wages. As she did, the woman spoke to herself, loud enough for Sophie to hear, “Let’s see…”

The baker set down Sophie’s usual wages. Sophie thanked her and reached for the bills lying there. The baker stopped her hand and spoke, without looking up, “The shop looks better than ever lately.”

She turned her eyes to Sophie. “You’ve been working a little later than necessary for some time now.”

Sophie looked at her feet, embarrassed, as the baker pulled some paper and a pencil from beneath the counter and set them down and continued, “I used to hire someone to tidy up the shop as you’ve been doing. I can’t quite remember what I used to pay them.”

The baker marked a few calculations onto the paper and reached into the cash drawer and placed a few extra bills on top of Sophie’s normal wages and looked down at her paper.

“That doesn’t seem right. You’ve been working late every single day for some time now… Let me check the math again. Oh, I shouldn’t have let your grandmother off, she’s better with the numbers than I am.”

The baker made a few more marks on the paper, performing some simple math, adding up the days and Sophie’s extra wages, reaching into the drawer and pulling out more money and placing it on the counter, before checking her math again and pulling out more and adding it to the growing pile, speaking loudly and absent-mindedly the whole time.

“This afternoon your grandmother told me she plans on heading north soon, and that she’ll be gone for some time.”

The baker looked casually at Sophie. “It’s to be expected, of course. She never said so but she adored that man.” The baker looked back down. “Though now I’ll have to find someone else to take care of the books for me.”

She placed more money on the counter. “As I said, I’m not very good at math.”

She returned to her paper, then scanned the neatly ordered shop, then added even more money to Sophie’s thick pile. The woman looked back down and spoke some more to herself.

“I’ll have to find someone to help me with the oven and the store too, while you are traveling with her.”

Sophie’s heart returned to her chest for a moment, before rising and getting caught in her throat as she looked at the thick stack of money on the counter.

The baker rolled her eyes up at Sophie with lightly arched eyebrows. “Though only temporary help, of course… as you’ll resume working here when you return…”

Sophie nodded yes, yes, yes. The baker sat back in her chair and pushed the money towards her.

“And I’m sure if my math was wrong and I’ve overpaid you now, then you’ll work the remainder off when you return.” Sophie pressed her heart down her throat and back into her chest and released a soft, “Of course.”

The Girl Who Came Back to Life

When you die, your spirit wakes in the north, in the City of the Dead. There, you wander the cold until one of your living loved ones finds you, says "Goodbye," and Sends you to the next world. 

After her parents die, 12-year-old Sophie refuses to release their spirits. Instead, she resolves to travel to the City of the Dead to bring her mother and father’s spirits back home with her. 

Taking the long pilgrimage north with her gruff & distant grandmother—by train, by foot, by boat; over ruined mountains and plains and oceans—Sophie struggles to return what death stole from her. Yet the journey offers her many hard, unexpected lessons—what to hold on to, when to let go, and who she must truly bring back to life.

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Genre – Middle Grade
Rating – PG-13
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