Chatur the Laundry Man by Subhash Kommuru — book promo

Children’s Book
Date Published: October 2016
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What can a business man, a lazy donkey, and an elephant teach kids about success and friendship? Read along to find out in this playful romp by the award-winning author of The Magic of Friendship!
Chatur the Laundry Man is a funny, lighthearted story with a subtle lesson. Chatur thinks of nothing but growing his business, but his friend Gadhu the donkey keeps telling him to take it easy. When Chatur has a bright idea to get more business, things seem to be going his way but take an unexpected turn. Will Chatur learn that sometimes success takes a little time and patience?
Praise for Chatur the Laundry Man:
“5 Star … a humorous tale.. illustrations are comical.. highly recommended..” – Readers Favorite Review
“.. kids will receive 3 fine messages the value of hard work, what happens when a push for profit supersedes quality of life, and how different approaches to work and play yield very singular results.” – Midwest Book Review

About the Authors

Subhash and Sujata Kommuru are a husband and wife team, known for their award-winning range of children’s books. They aim to introduce the vibrant culture of India to the children of the United States, the country which has been their home for several years.
Subhash began writing when he became a father. He created stories for his young son about his own childhood in India, to help his son understand the culture and values of his heritage.
Subhash’s wife, Sujata, is an illustrator, who soon began creating pictures to accompany her husband’s words. Her illustrations bring to life the colorful images of her own Indian childhood, giving children a vivid insight into a diverse culture.
Together, Subhash and Sujata offer children the chance to experience the life of an Indian child, and understand a culture vastly different from their own, while enjoying the simple similarities shared by children all over the world.
Their books are entertaining at the same time as being educational, and they have been honored for excellence by the prestigious Mom’s Choice Awards.
With universal themes including friendship and the importance of self-expression, Subhash and Sujata’s books provide children with an all-important introduction to the diversity of the world they live in. Read them together and they’ll become firm favorites that your child will enjoy again and again.
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The Watermelon King by Daniel Royse — book excerpt

The-Watermelon-King-Book-Cover.jpgTitle: The Watermelon King

Author: Daniel Royse

Genre: Literary Fiction

After being laid off from his job at a prestigious consulting firm, Dean decides to embark on a journey across east Africa with his younger brother. Unknowingly, the two travel into bandit territory through Northern Kenya where a medical emergency forces them to choose between their safety and their health.

Inspired by true events, The Watermelon King follows the journey of two brothers as they backpack across one of East Africa’s most inhospitable regions. As they endure endless days of difficult travel, a series of short stories written by their father begins to uncover some of their deepest motivations and brings to light their connection to the past. Along the way they begin to understand the beauty and frustration of life in Africa.

The Watermelon King

Excerpt

It wasn’t long before we reached the edge of the Mercado. At the end of the road we could see it in front of us, a dense mass of humanity seething with commerce. Like an open plain leading up to a dense forest, there was no uncertainty as to where it began.

“Come. We can see the shops,” said Staven.

The four of us successfully managed to “Frogger” ourselves across the heavy traffic without a single man down. Once on the other side we cautiously stepped into the madness of the Mercado. Staven and Abdi walked in front leading us through the tiny winding alleyways while pointing out the various aspects of the market that made it unique.

On every side of us were shopkeepers selling all types of products. Some new some recycled. Some local, some shipped from across the world. Some of the goods were familiar like lawn chairs and pots and pans. Others were strange to see like old boom boxes and wicker baskets over flowing with exotic spices. The walkways became smaller as we hiked deeper into the heart of the commerce and with every step we took; more eyes began to focus on us. It appeared that we had entered a part of the Mercado that few foreigners visit, thanks to our new “friends”.

Staven explained to us that within the madness there was an order that lay beneath the surface. Despite the chaotic appearance, the market was arranged into sections, each one focusing on a specific product or category. Food stuffs, electronics, aluminum, spices, plastics…all organized into their own sections.

After about 15 minutes into the Mercado we had reached an obstacle in our path. Before us flowed a slow moving river of sewage at the bottom of a six-foot deep ravine surrounded by trash on all sides. With only a pair of two by eight inch boards laid across each bank for a makeshift walking bridge, people crossed effortlessly from side to side. One wrong step and it suddenly became a horrible afternoon. Staven and Abdi crossed along with everyone else without a second thought, while Ethan and I needed a minute to assess the situation.

“Holy shit!” Ethan’s eyes grew large. “What the hell is this?”

“This, my friend, is a river of shit.”

“You’re not kidding.”

We both paused for a moment staring at our only option across. It was either cross the wobbly 16-inch bridge or turn around and admit right then and there that we were no match for even the simplest Ethiopian obstacle. With dozens of eyes staring at us, our pride was now on the line. There was no other choice. With a sudden acceptance, Ethan simply shrugged his shoulders and walked across the bridge. In many ways he was more daring than I was, and this time it showed.

“Come on man, it’s easy. Get over here!” he shouted from the safe side.

Being the last man standing, I had no other alternative but to cross the bridge. As I cautiously made my way forward, the two wooden planks wobbled uncomfortably beneath my feet. The six feet of distance across felt like twice that. With hands stretched out like a gymnast, I slowly started on my way to the other side. With each foot carefully placed in front of the other, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that there were now people on both sides waiting for me to get off the bridge. The pressure didn’t help the situation. For a second as I focused on the bystanders instead of the wobbly planks, I began to feel myself leaning too much to my right. It was too late. I couldn’t catch my balance. In one swift move I jumped from the plank with my left foot and landed on the other side. With a deep exhale; I stood there relieved that I didn’t fall into the river of shit below.

Despite my inner turmoil no one else seemed to notice; after all, it was only a six-foot crossing. Within seconds a woman with a basket on her head nudged me aside and crossed the bridge without the slightest inconvenience.

As if he had no idea why I was taking so long, Staven simply said, “Come, this way!”

The dynamic between our two new friends was slowly becoming clear. Staven was the talkative one, and the obvious leader. He had an aura of urgency about him, something that made his movements seem slightly aggressive. Abdi, on the other hand, rarely said a word and was perfectly content being led. He seemed to be an observer of life, satisfied with simply keeping to himself the things that transpired in his mind. If they weren’t so different they would have never gotten along so well.

We turned a corner to reach the end of an alleyway. Before us, it opened up to a large expanse where hundreds of people worked diligently in chaotic harmony. This was the “recycling center” of the Mercado.

“My friends, this is where we make old things new,” said Staven.

“Old things new?’ Ethan replied.

“Yes, unlike in your country we recycle everything we can. What you call trash, to us can still have good use.”

There, in the open expanse of the Mercado was the most unique aspect of any market I had seen anywhere. It was where trash came to be reborn. There were sections where people sat diligently pounding bent rebar straight again. Women sat on crates in the dirt in long rows viciously scrubbing old pots and pans to a like-new shimmer. Old electronics like 1980’s style Boom Boxes were carefully being repaired and old plastic bottles were rounded up for re-use. For people who have so little everything that can be reused, is reused. Our wasteful culture back home would be wise to take notes.

Despite the uniqueness of the area, we made our way through it fairly quickly. There was so much chaos occurring all around us that it felt odd to be standing in the way of it all. When we reached the edge of the Mercado it was obvious that the commerce jungle had ended abruptly. From where we stood, the rest of Addis began again.

“My friends, that was the Mercado. As you can see it is quite large!” said Staven.

“Pretty cool, should we grab a drink?” Ethan said as he surveyed the streets in front of him.

 “Okay, now we drink!” exclaimed Staven, like a man on a mission.

He led and we followed. And as we followed, we made our way down the main thoroughfares of Addis slowly approaching the neighborhoods in the outer areas. The roads changed from wide lanes with partial sidewalks to narrow lanes made of dirt and gravel. On the sides of the road, the partial sidewalks slowly morphed into ditches that collected rainwater and trash. The further away we progressed from the city center, the more people began to stare as we passed by. We were approaching areas that saw few foreigners. As the dirt roads began to change into alleyways, I began struggling to keep my sense of direction. Winding and turning, dodging kids on bikes and potholes…we kept moving until all of a sudden, we stopped.

There, to the left of us was a small gap about four feet wide between two cement houses, both of which appeared to be abandoned. It was nearly pitch black now as we were well beyond the parts of town that had streetlights. As we walked single file into the space between the two houses, we could hear the noise increase as we approached. We followed Staven and Abdi through an opening and down a set of cement stairs that led into a small dimly lit room. At its entrance, an overweight woman was sitting in a chair guarding the door. It appeared as if she knew Staven and immediately granted us passage by simply exchanging a few words and nodding in his direction.

Through the smoke and haze we could barely make out the faces looking back at us but it seemed as if many of them were under 18 years old. Before we had arrived they were all drinking and speaking loudly in Amharic, but nearly instantaneously the conversation stopped and all eyes focused on us.

Staven began to speak to a few of them in Amharic and smiles slowly began to creep across their faces. Within moments, the drinking continued and the gathering was back to its original intensity. While he spoke the women at the door had turned around and began to fill up four small glasses with a clear vodka-like drink. She passed them to Staven.

“Here!” he said. “This is arak.”

“Arak?” I said confused. “What is it?”

“Alcohol,” he said as if he was speaking to a child. “It will be 20 Birr.”

We paid, of course. It was simply unspoken that we would pay for every cost incurred that evening. After all, we made more in a day than they made in a month and things were cheap…. really cheap.

Without hesitation Staven and Abdi began to drink, then Ethan, then me. Forcing a look of disgust into one of acceptance, I slowly choked down my beverage. It burned like any liquor but with a distinct flavor of rubbing alcohol. It turned out that it was a standard homemade rice wine concoction. Here they call it “arak”, in other regions “roxy”, but in most places it’s just referred to as “rice wine”. I’ve even seen it come in little plastic bags while in some countries. But let me tell you, when you start drinking liquor out of a little plastic bag, you know that you’ve reached a new stage in life.

With any homemade rice wine I knew there were inherent risks involved, but sometimes you just end up putting trust in people, smart or not. A few years back I had been traveling in Cambodia when a batch of bad rice wine had killed off an entire village of men. The problem is that there’s no regulation on this stuff, so it’s up to the guy brewing it in his bathtub to not add anything deadly to the mix. Luckily for us, this was a good batch.

As we drank we made small talk with those who were able to work up the nerve to mingle with us. And the more we drank the more the overweight lady in the corner would refill our cups. As I looked around the cramped and dingy room, I realized that even on the other side of the world in a place so far removed, kids are all the same. Whether they live here in Ethiopia, North Dakota or California, kids everywhere are just trying to party.

It didn’t take long before our group got anxious and it was time for us to make our way to our next destination. We said our goodbyes, paid our bill and thanked them for their hospitality. At this point the sun was beginning to go down and we were starting to feel good. We made our way back to the alley outside of the two abandoned-looking houses and began our walk back towards town.

“So now what?” said Ethan, clearly ready for the evening to get into full swing.

Ethan was an instigator. He was that guy who always kept the party going or was pushing for the next one to start. Every crew needed an “Ethan”.

Staven chimed in, “We can do anything! We have bars, whore houses, chat houses. There are many things in Addis. What do you like?”

It was becoming clear that Ethan and Staven were feeding off each other’s energy. And to top it off, their motivations complimented each other. Ethan was looking for a good time, which Staven could provide and Staven was looking for a free night out, which Ethan was more than willing to cover. They were unstoppable.

“Chat house? What’s that?” Ethan said.

“It is a place where people go to chew chat together…like a bar or a restaurant but for chat,” Staven explained.

“And what the hell is chat? He said as he looked at me to see if I knew what this stuff was.

“Oh sorry,” I said. “It’s local plant that people chew to get high. It’s a stimulant but it takes a while to kick in. It doesn’t mess you up but it does wake you up!”

“So it’s like coke?”

“Eh, not really. I’d say it falls somewhere in between cocaine and coffee…but it’s legal here.”

“Oh, we’ve got to try this!” he said with excitement. “Have you tried it before?”

“Yeah, a few times. It’s alright,” I said, as if I was a veteran chat chewer.

“Well, how to we find it?” Ethan exclaimed.

“You want chat? We can get that. Come! My friend will sell to us,” said Staven.

Staven had a friend for everything.

As we walked in the direction of Staven’s “chat guy” we made our way out of the small alleys and dirt roads and onto an area closer to the city center. We were still on the peripheral but now much closer. From where we stood in the darkness, I could see the glow of Addis in the distance. So at least I had a general direction of how to get back if needed.

The streets were still dark without public lighting and the only light that filled the air came from small fires or individual light bulbs hanging from private residences. People walked through the darkness chatting as stray dogs scrounged for food in the stillness. It was hard to picture a chat house in a place like this but what did I really know. This was a local area.

“You will like chat,” Staven assured Ethan. “It is very nice for staying awake and fucking a long time!…hahaha!”

Awkwardly, Ethan just looked at him and smiled, “Haha, okay.”

Within a few moments we had reached our destination. It was a rickety looking house with the front door closed. Beams of light broke through the cracks in the door, illuminating the street in front of us. With a knock and a push, Staven opened the door and a bright neon light shined down on us from the open entrance of the chat house. We walked in single file.

The room was painted bright pink with eight chairs positioned in a semi-circle and a small blue table set in the middle. As we entered the room I could see we were in the right place. There were already three guys sitting there sharing a bushel of chat. They glared at us with beady eyes and eerie smiles as they continued to chew chat and smoke cigarettes. The smoke in the air was thick and ventilation was non-existent.

“Please sit. I will speak with the manager,” Staven instructed as he walked off.

We pulled up three chairs in a row across from the first three chat-chewers in the semicircle. Abdi sat closest to them. For a moment we sat in silence as we waited for Staven to return. The guys across from us smiled with ever more welcoming gestures as Abdi began to make small talk in Amharic. Perhaps he was vouching for us.

I could tell that Abdi was a quiet yet friendly guy. He had a slightly nerdy or analytical vibe about him. If he had been born in the states I could see him being a software developer in Silicon Valley. He reminded me a lot of the people I used to work with in that area.

It wasn’t long before Staven returned with two bushels of chat, each in a black plastic bag and two glass bottles of Coca-Cola. He shut the door behind him and sat down in one of the vacant chairs.

“Okay my friends!” he said in excitement as he placed the bushels on the blue table and pulled the first one out of the black plastic bag.

He and Abdi began to dig into the first bushel as if they couldn’t wait. Ethan and I sat watching cautiously. Staven carefully pulled the tips off each of the leaves and proceeded to roll them into a tiny ball. He handed the first ball to Ethan.

“Here, try this,” he said.

“So how do I do this exactly?” Ethan replied in amusement.

“Just take these leaves and chew them. You can swallow the juice. If the taste is too bad for you, you can take some Coke,” he said as he handed Ethan the first bottle of Coke anticipating a negative reaction from the chat.

“Some people like to eat the whole leaf and the stem, but they are savages! We only eat the tips of the leaves because they are the best!

Staven then glanced at me, “You have had chat before, yes?”

“Sure. I’ve tried it a few times since I’ve been here,” I said.

“Excellent! Please, help yourself,” he said with a smile.

As we sat there chewing our chat our heart rates began to speed up, our pupils dilated and the room slowly began to get more and more friendly and vibrant. I could feel my mouth getting dry but I was slowly getting used to the taste of the bitter chat leaves. Still, my Coca-Cola consumption remained constant. The room was filling with cigarette smoke as the chat-induced adrenaline surged through us. Our group had merged with the one next to us, although Abdi sat in the corner not saying much as usual.

Whenever we didn’t chew the chat fast enough, Staven would roll us a little ball of leaves and give it to Ethan or me. It was hard to keep up and my cheeks began to become full of green leaves. The bottles of Coke made their way around the room but Ethan and I drank the majority, as we were new to the harsh taste of the leaves.

As the minutes passed and the first bushel made way for the second, we kept chewing and kept on talking. But the second bushel went faster than the first and soon, through the smoke and conversation, it was evident that our stash was nearly depleted. Energized and ready to hit the town, we all agreed that it was time to head to the bar. Before we could leave, however, we had to pay our bill. Again, this fell on us. And I knew from experience that when you don’t get the price up front, you end up paying for it in the end. Sure enough, that is exactly what happened.

After a few moments of sitting there chat-less, a small boy approached us with a yellow post-it note sized piece of paper and handed it to Staven. He looked at it and immediately came over to explain it to me.

“The price is 700 Birr, 300 for each bushel of chat and 100 for the Cokes,” he said cautiously as if he was expecting some push back from me.

“Ohh okay. That should be no problem,” I said.

He was in luck. I was feeling generous from the chat and actually I was expecting it to be higher. The total cost came to around $30 USD, much more expensive than it should have been but nothing that would break the bank.

Once paid up, we were free to leave and from the comfort of our cozy little chat den we made our way into the dark desolate side streets of Addis Ababa toward the more lively area of the Piazza. This, the historical Italian area, was now known mostly for pickpockets, hookers, drinking and all types of general debauchery.



Daniel-Royse-Headshot.jpgDaniel Royse is the founder and editor in chief of the online travel publication, This Boundless World. He has written numerous articles on travel, business and politics. The Watermelon King is his first full-length novel.

Daniel is an obsessive writer and explorer who has backpacked to over 50 countries, spanning five continents. To the disbelief of many, he still enjoys long, hot bus rides through chaotic places.

 

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Boston’s Quest by Shanae Branham: Author Interview

 

BostonsQuest_CVR_SML

Clean YA Suspense/ Fantasy
Date Published: 7/10/2015
 

The external drive containing the information for building a hologram machine is stolen and sold on the black market. Now someone has connected a new hologram machine to the Internet, forcing people to fight for their lives in an online fantasy game. Trapped inside this deadly scenario, seventeen-year-old Boston Manning learns that her weakness for tolerating abuse is stopping her from unlocking her elven powers. Can she overcome her character flaw or will she die trying?

 

In book 2 of the Holoquest Fantasy Series, Boston and Jason return with another action-packed, romantic adventure. Boston’s Questwill electrify your imagination as you experience elves, dwarfs, trolls, priests, vampires, and demons as you’ve never experienced them before.

 

  1. Tell us about this story.

I get overwhelmed when I have to boil my story down into a short summary so I’d like to use most of an Amazon review by Alisa H. to answer this question. “Jason Tanner’s mother died when he was younger, and recently his father has been killed and his brother Isaac is now in a psychiatric ward. Isaac hates Jason and thinks he is responsible for his father’s death. …Jason wants his girlfriend Boston to join him in his gaming world, and Boston wants him to join her in the real world. Neither of them are great at facing their problems, and unfortunately, they both have huge problems.

Boston is struggling with a sober and controlling mother … and her (mother’s) new boyfriend, Ivan who wants Boston in a creepy and totally inappropriate way. Boston barely escapes Ivan. But she unknowingly has traded a really bad situation for an impossibly bad situation.

There is a third point of view (besides Jason and Boston) in this book: Oscar Allen. He is leading up one of the challenge teams and he and Jason become friends. Oscar is brilliant online, but mentally and emotionally he is unable to leave his room. His dad has just gotten out of prison for embezzlement and is determined to drive Oscar out of his bedroom. It’s interesting to watch Oscar develop as he learns more about his dad’s “crime” and is put in some situations (as Jason’s friend) that require him to look past his own fears.

The rest of the book is really intense — the best way I can describe it without giving spoilers is it’s like Ender’s Game meets Hunger Games. There is a big quest and there are some teams who think they are playing the quest to win a big monetary prize at the end, and there are others who are playing against their will to save their own lives. Alliances are formed, enemies are identified, and the game is on!

I love the intensity of this book – I definitely didn’t want to put it down. But I also love the themes that run through this book: loyalty, looking past fears, standing up for yourself, standing up for others, and helping others out even when you have to sacrifice something yourself.

  1. What living person do you most admire?

My husband

  1. What is your most prized possession?

My mind

  1. Which talent would you most like to have?

The ability to teleport

  1. Who is your favorite fictional character of all time?

Mary Poppins

  1. Who’s the favorite character that you created?

Oscar Allen

  1. What’s your idea of perfect happiness?

Being with the people I love while doing the things that we love with everyone happy with each other.

  1. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d like to be twenty again with the wisdom that I have gained over the last twenty-five years.

 

I am a professional writer with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a minor in grammar. I have also attended several years of classes and workshops in screenplay writing at the Los Angeles Screenplay writer’s Expo.

boston's quest Portrait picture for blog sizeI love suspenseful, action-adventures and clean, young adult, romance stories. I was born and raised in a small town in Idaho. I am the second out of six children. When I was in my early 20’s my mother was killed by a drunk driver. This one incident drastically changed my life. I have always had a passion for reading and writing fiction. Owing to a life long struggle with Dyslexia, early teachers discouraged me from pursuing a career in writing.

As I have spent over twenty-five years transforming my language disabilities into professional writing skills, God has honed my insatiable passion into an incredible vision.

Contact Links
Website: http://shanaebranham.com/books/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Shanae-Branham-193847093968586/timeline/

Purchase Links

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Bostons-Quest-Holoquest-Fantasy-Book-ebook/dp/B011DWRZ8I/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1444094301&sr=1-1&keywords=Boston%27s+Quest

Barnes and Noblehttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bostons-quest-shanae-branham/1122175970?ean=9781511964081

The Secret King Lethao by Dawn Chapman

Lethao Cover Art AMAZON
Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Date Published: September 30, 2015
 
 

Kendro, King of the Aonise, can do nothing to prevent their sun from collapsing, consuming their home planet Letháo in a single fiery blast. Running out of time and options, he evacuates the entire population, setting off into the unknown galaxy in four crowded ships. Under constant danger from their ancient enemy, the Zefron, treasonous dissent seeps into his inner circle. Threatened inside and out, Kendro struggles with who to trust, until a mysterious vision finally brings hope to the distraught King. A new home awaits the Aonise, if Kendro can only unite them long enough to survive the journey.

EXCERPT From Ch 4: 

“I trust the four of you. I hope you trust me.”  Looking to each of them, Kendro spoke. “The Zefron will follow us—”

“The Zefron, still!” Madrall’s outburst reverberated through the others.

“Yes, and my last recon came back with nothing.” Octav said. “We still know nothing else about them. They’re bent on our annihilation, with no valid reasons.” He waited for their acknowledgment.  “Staying away from the Zefron won’t be an option I believe we will have to fight.”

With a hand slammed on the table, Kendro brought up a holosnap.  “Octav smuggled this off the Zefron home world.” A holographic image rotated over the centre of their table. “Like us, at first we thought they were fleeing the solar system.” Pointing to several areas as the ship rotated, Kendro added, “Initial scans from Octav’s team were conclusive. It’s a battle ship. I can presume they will be coming for us.”

“Puswer,” cursed Captain Hadi.  “We escape a dying planet, to be chased across the galaxy.”

Dawn Chapman has been creating sci fi and fantasy stories for thirty years. Until 2005 when her life and attention turned to scripts, and she started work on The Secret King, a 13 episode Sci Fi TV series, with great passion for this medium.

In 2010, Dawn returned to her first love of prose. She’s been working with coach EJ Runyon who’s encouraged her away from fast paced script writing, to revel in the world of TSK and Letháo as an epic prose space journey.

 

She’s had success with a web series, co-written with ‘Melvin Johnson’, produced by Nandar Entertainment, and a short film Irobe, also co-written. This year her experience of working with Producers/Directors from the US and AUS has expanded. From Drama, Sci Fi to Action, Dawn’s built a portfolio of writing, consulting and publishing.

 

 

Contact Information

Website: www.thesecretking.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/The-Secret-King/836723299691777

Twitter: @TeamSecretKing

Blog: http://kanundra.com/

Any Others:  http://www.tskproductions.com/

Purchase Links

 

Book Promo: Big Data is Watching You! by Bruce Hartman

Big Data Is Watching You

Fiction / Dystopian / Humor
Date Published: November 2015
 
 

It’s way past 1984.  Your toothbrush, your coffee maker and your Rice Krispies are running your life.  But don’t worry… BIG DATA IS WATCHING YOU!

 

Welcome to Goozle Earth®, a dystopia where the all-knowing and all-powerful force of Big Data rules humanity through the Internet of Things and the corporate power of Goozle Inc.  Where English® and every possible combination of words has been copyrighted and the only law is the Terms of Service, which has been replaced by the Terms of Servitude.  Where the proudly psychopathic Higgs, Caesar and Emperor Omnipotent (CEO) of Goozle Inc., is determined to launch the Next Big Thing.

 

Smith, a happy native of this paradise, wanders off the grid and discovers sex®, the knowledge of good and evil, and the pursuit of Happiness. Can he save the human race from the Next Big Thing?

 

 EXCERPT

Smith stared back in confusion when Julia said he was living in a dystopia.

 

“A dystopia?” he repeated. The word was new to him. “What do you mean?”

 

They were somewhere in the Green Mountains, walking on a dirt road through a strangely silent woods. That was all Smith knew. He’d lost his way in the hills, his car stopping short where a huge fallen tree blocked the road. The woman who introduced herself as Julia climbed over the fallen tree before he could tell his car to turn around. Surprisingly, she offered to walk him into the nearby village to find something to eat. The eerie silence followed them into the village, swallowing his thoughts. Julia looked different from anyone he’d ever seen, though she had (he soon realized) the same blond hair and blue eyes and the same awkward gait as everyone else in the village. The others—he noticed half a dozen villagers cutting weeds or stacking firewood around a row of decaying frame houses—weren’t nearly so friendly as she was. Most of them turned away or receded into the shadows rather than to look at him. Some of them, he realized with a start, had beards.

 

“It’s a society where, basically, life sucks,” she explained. “You have no freedom or privacy. You can’t do anything, you can’t say anything, you can’t even think without somebody spying on you or listening in.”

 

Smith didn’t want to seem condescending, but he couldn’t help feeling superior to the crouching lowlifes he’d noticed slinking away as Julia led him into the village. These were apparently her neighbors. Who was she to cast aspersions on his life in Goozle Earth?

 

“My life doesn’t suck,” he said, smiling as always. “In fact, I can’t imagine being happier than I am. I have a good job at Celebrity Solutions, a nice condo, hundreds of friends, and two wonderful pets. Everything I want is delivered to my door within thirty minutes by an Amazzond drone.”

 

Julia laughed. “Guess who drank the Kool Aid!”

 

“Kool Aid?” Kool Aid® was Smith’s favorite beverage.

 

“Try thinking an original thought and see what happens.”

 

He stared back uncomprehendingly.

 

“You know,” she teased. “Say something more than 140 characters long.”

 

What was she talking about? Did she seriously expect him to violate the Terms of Service? She spoke fluent English® but used words he’d never heard before, like “freedom” and “privacy.” He’d heard that connectivity could be poor in rural areas, where the inhabitants—known as “Yahoos”—often expressed eccentric, paranoid ideas. Obviously, for whatever reason, he and Julia weren’t connecting. Still, there was something about her that affected him in a surprising, unfamiliar way. He later learned that it was called “sex®.”

Twitter: @BHart_man
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BruceHartmanAuthorPage
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=AAIAAAJ-IZ8BEsNqj8qI3ukvvD6IpwXw0kvyMVw
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1672631.Bruce_Hartman

BEARING IT ALL by Vonnie Davis — book excerpt

Bearing It All_Cover

Bearing It All Highlander’s Beloved #3

By: Vonnie Davis

Releasing October 27, 2015

Loveswept

A Scottish hunter and a French secret agent find themselves on a collision course with danger—and irresistible desire—in Vonnie Davis’s new bear-shifting Highlander novel, perfect for fans of Jennifer Ashley and Shelly Laurenston. In the pine-dense mountains of the Scottish Highlands, shape-shifter Ronan Matheson is running free when a desperate woman parachutes out of the sky, directly onto his furry, powerful chest. Instead of clawing her to death, Ronan’s inner bear longs to keep her safe. Once he’s back in human form, Ronan is amused by the mysterious beauty’s fearless attitude—and tempted by her expertly toned physique. But what could she possibly be doing in this isolated stretch of the Highlands? French intelligence agent Anisa Brosseau never imagined she’d be on the CIA’s bad side—until she’s framed for treason and forced to flee in a stolen drone. Hiding out in a remote cabin, Anisa just needs some time to clear her name. What she doesn’t need is a brooding, muscle-bound Scot in a skimpy kilt to drive her crazy with lust. But when Anisa’s enemies come knocking on his door, Ronan calls on a secret weapon to protect his turf and the bonny lass he’s come to love.

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excerpt

Now what was he supposed to do? “Bloody hell! Not only am I stuck with a woman, but a feisty, hardheaded one, at that.”

“Take your Scottish skirt, your hairy muscular legs, and go back inside. Leave. Me. Alone.”

Look, she likes yer legs. She’s not wimpy. I like her spirit.

“Yer opinion has nay bearing in this matter.”

“Does too,” she mumbled and shifted away from the rock’s roughest edge.

Bloody hell, she thought he was talking to her. Ronan stooped so he could examine her; at least her hearing was still good. She’d taken quite a tumble over that boulder he’d tried digging out on several occasions, but that was just too damn big to remove by himself. The deeper he shoveled, the larger the feckin’ thing became. “Are ye hurt, lassie?” He ran his hands over her, searching for broken bones.

She rolled and, before he knew what she was about, wrapped her thighs around his legs, slipped her arms under his armpits and flipped him over her head. He landed on his back, the wind knocked out of him, and his Scottish temper rose like the mist over the bogs.

Oh yeah, I like her. Shift, so I can play tumble, too.

“Ye are a fool if ye think ye’re playing tumble with her.”

The woman slowly stood and weaved for a bit. “What in the hell are you talking about? I wasn’t playing tumble. I was getting your grubby hands off me.” She pressed two fingertips to the part of her forehead exposed by the helmet. “Why do I feel as if I’m having a three-way conversation?”

“I wasna making improper advances. I know how nasty that blasted boulder is. I was merely searching fer any injuries ye may have suffered.” Ronan backflipped into a stand. “Ye look exhausted, even though ye still have enough vinegar in yer system to knock me on me arse. I apologize for me boorish actions earlier. Of course ye’re welcome to spend the night in me warm cabin, fed and undisturbed.”

“After all I’ve been through this past week, I don’t trust you any more than a rabid dog or a raging bear.” She planted her hands on her rounded hips. “Frankly, your change in attitude is too quick to be believed. Even so, my French politeness demands I apologize.” She glanced away fer a beat as if the apology was going to cost her a fine fortune.

Then her gaze connected with his and part of him, his soul, his heart—he had nay clue—did a strange, slow roll, taking his breath with it. “Sir, you are much too kind. As dirty as I am, I’d only mess up your house. I’ll just keep moving on.” She bent to retrieve her flashlight. “Thank you. I’m sorry for my attitude. I know I was being bitchy.” She gave an audible sigh and shook her head a time or two. “That remark about your skirt was also uncalled for. I hope you’ll forgive me for my thoughtlessness.”

Her heartfelt request fer forgiveness softened his mood. “Outsiders dinna understand the strong pride we have fer our plaid, our kilts, our traditions. Come inside. I’ll heat ye some soup.”

“Thanks, but no. An intelligent woman would not go into a strange man’s cabin alone.” She made two steps and he picked her up by the waist and tossed her over his shoulder. She wrapped one arm around his neck, inhaled his woodsy scent as she clasped that wrist with her other one, shifted over a tad, and kneed him in the balls.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” he breathed as he dropped to his knees, released his grasp on her, and rolled onto his side, holding his privates. “Bloody fokin’ hell. What did I do to deserve

that?”

Anisa leaned over him. “Feeling a little sick to your stomach, are you?”

“Ye are a demon. A ball-crushing demon.” He held his crotch, his knees bent and his kilt showing he wore nothing beneath it.

She shuffled from one foot to the other as she stared at his Scottish bagpipe. Bet he could hit a lot of high notes with that thing. “You . . . you startled me when you grabbed me like that.”

“Well, ye needna be afraid now. I couldna molest ya, even if I wanted to, which I dinna. I’m

betting foreplay with ye would be like grabbing hold of an electrical wire while sitting in a tub of water.” He groaned and cussed some more. “Hell, I bet yer vagina is lined with shark’s teeth.” His continued gasping still indicated he was fighting for enough breath to talk.

She leaned over and shook a finger at him. “Just keep that image in your mind, buster, and we’ll get along fine.”

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Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/08/bearing-it-all-highlanders-beloved-3-by.html Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22890402-bearing-it-all?ac=1 Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/134541-highlander-s-beloved

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bearing-All-Highlanders-Beloved-Novel-ebook/dp/B00TCI2A5E/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1439517384&sr=1-2&keywords=bearing+it+all B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bearing-it-all-vonnie-davis/1121772576?ean=9780553394658 iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/bearing-it-all/id993474014?mt=11 Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/bearing-it-all-1

Author Info

Vonnie Davis, who studied English at Penn State, likens herself to a croissant: crusty, wrinkled, flaky—and best served with strong coffee. After a career as a technical writer, she’s spending her retirement playing fairy godmother to her characters, giving them their happily-ever-afters. Six fantastic, talented kids call her “Grandma” and brighten her world in so many ways. She lives in Southern Virginia with her husband, author Calvin Davis.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads Website: http://www.vonniedavis.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vonnie-Davis-Author/108756859190536 Twitter: https://twitter.com/VonnieWrites GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5009146.Vonnie_Davis