With New Eyes by Heidi Siefkas: Author Interview

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Title: With New Eyes: The Power of Perspective

Author: Heidi Siefkas

Genre: Memoir / Inspiration

Heidi Siefkas lost her health, her career, and her marriage after she was struck by a one thousand-pound tree branch. While she made great strides in her physical and emotional recovery in the months that followed—an arduous process that she chronicled in When All Balls Drop—Heidi wasn’t content to merely survive her setbacks. The time was right to build a new life. One she could live on her own terms.

But what would a redesigned life look like? In her quest for answers, Heidi returned to her childhood home in Wisconsin, dove into the South Florida dating scene, revisited old flames in New England, sold her first home, jumped out of a plane, and traveled alone to South America. Every leg of her journey provided a healthy dose of perspective.

 With New Eyes is full of mishaps and bold decisions, all seasoned with sassy humor. Through her signature down-to-earth vignettes, Heidi inspires you to conquer your fears, head for adventure, and be the captain of your own ship.




What inspired your latest work?

With New Eyes was inspired by real-life events and the details of architecting a new life, Life 2.0. I wrote With New Eyes for anyone who is at a crossroads in his/her life. Just like software, people occasionally need life updates, whether to improve features, fix bugs, correct course, or even a complete life overhaul. With New Eyes inspires readers to conquer their fears, head for adventure, and embark on your own Life 2.0.
What living person do you most admire?

I admire Madonna. She paved the way for so many female artists. Madonna is not afraid to make bold decisions, nor be herself. Madonna is a role model of courage and creating your own life path.
What is your most prized possession?

My most prized possession is my charm bracelet. My mother gave it to me. A few of the charms were hers, but many have been gifts I have purchased for milestones in my life. My charm bracelet is like my totem pole. It tells the story of my life throw charms of cheese from my home state, a tree from the accident in New York that sparked my life change, and a boomerang from my recent trip to Australia. The bracelet is getting rather heavy; so, I have created a necklace that serves a similar purpose to continue with more milestones and travels.
What’s your idea of perfect happiness?

I believe happiness is perspective. Just like perspective, happiness changes. With that said, my basis of happiness is a combination of good health, strong relationships with my clan (friends/family/peers), and freedom.
Why do you write?

I wanted to inspire others. In a former life, I was a classroom teacher. I felt that the classroom and the high school audience wasn’t a good fit long-term. However, through writing and speaking, I have found a way to teach, inspire, and entertain readers without walls.
Where would you most like to live?

I currently live part-time in Kauai and part-time in South Florida. Both are tropical with many pluses. However, I’m still with much wanderlust. I’ll have to get back to you.
What is your motto?

I believe that every occasion in life can either be categorized as a good time or a good story. There is a lot of truth behind this. The moments full of mishaps and unexpected occurrences maybe weren’t the most fun, but they certainly are the stories that are shares with your friends or with your family around the holiday table. Good stories come from some of the most uncomfortable, if not almost disastrous events.
Who’s your favorite writer?

I typically say the author of the last good book I read, which would be Steinbeck and his Travels with Charley. With that said, the writing that continues to resonate with me most is Robert Frost’s poetry. His poem Road Not Taken sums up my author and adventurer life.



Author Bio

Heidi Siefkas is an author and adventurer. Originally from small-town Wisconsin, she lives in Kauai and also calls the Midwest and South Florida home. Heidi is currently writing her third book, Cubicle to Cuba, which features a humorous collection of stories about her travels to Cuba, Peru, New Zealand, Italy, and other far-flung places.

Heidi invites you to share photos on social media that show where you are enjoying With New Eyes (#withneweyes). You can connect with Heidi at http://www.heidisiefkas.com, Facebook, and Twitter.

Links

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Book Blurb: The Blue Dragon by Yiola Damianou-Papadopoulou

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The Blue Dragon

by Yiola Damianou-Papadopoulou

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GENRE: YA/ Middle Grade Fiction

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BLURB:

The Blue Dragon describes the terror of the catastrophic tsunami that hit Sri Lanka in December 2004. The novel focuses on a group of children—Hanseni, and her siblings Awade and Manori, and their friend Nishian—their individual experiences, and how they managed to pull through this horrendous event.

Overcoming their fears the children struggle against the forces of nature, fighting against the odds to save themselves and their friends. Their stories portray courage and hope, and demonstrate the inner strength and determination that exists in the human spirit when faced with an unforgiving natural disaster. This emotive and heartfelt story shows how even, in the most terrifying of circumstances, the will to live triumphs.

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Excerpt:

Chapter 1: “Mangona Village, Southern Sri Lanka

“I’ll go there too someday,” Hanseni murmured to herself, as she played with the pure white pebbles at the sea’s edge. She always picked this spot to play as she could look across to the other side. The house with the red windows high up on the hill occupied her thoughts. Schools in Sri Lanka were closed for the Christmas holidays, but the tutorial center never closed. The house on the hill was a school for foreign languages. Earlier that day she had seen the children making their way uphill. If only she could go too. In her mind, foreign languages were a passport: she could fly away, travel, see the world… Her eyes plunged into the azure sea and set sail for unknown lands.

 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Yiola Damianou-Papadopoulou was born in Nicosia and spent her childhood in the Congo and Nigeria. She studied Journalism in Athens and has worked with a number of radio stations, magazines and newspapers in Cyprus. She has published short stories for adults as well as novels. She has also written children’s and young adult fiction.

Excerpt: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Blue-Dragon-ebook/dp/B00BC6S6AW/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1360753618&sr=8-6

Please link to Publisher Twitter:                @wattlepub

Publisher Facebook:                                       https://www.facebook.com/WattlePublishing?sk=app_190322544333196

Publisher website: http://www.wattlepublishing.com

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Guest Post: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn by Kristi Belcamino

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Mystery / Detective
Date Published: September 29, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers
 
 

San Francisco Bay Area reporter Gabriella Giovanni has finally got it all together: a devoted and loving boyfriend, Detective Sean Donovan; a beautiful little girl with him; and her dream job as the cops’ reporter for the Bay Herald. But her success has been hard-won and has left her with debilitating paranoia. When a string of young co-eds starts to show up dead with suspicious Biblical verses left on their bodies—the same verses that the man she suspects kidnapped and murdered her sister twenty years ago had sent to her—she begins to question if the killer is trying to send her a message.

It is not until evil strikes Gabriella’s own family that her worst fears are confirmed. As the clock begins to tick, every passing hour means the difference between life and death to those Gabriella loves…

***

Chapter 1

Saturday

The setting sun turns my family into dark silhouettes as I step onto the warm sand. The beach is nearly deserted, except for a lone figure walking north of us along the sand where the waves are crashing in from the Pacific Ocean.

A cool breeze makes me glad I trekked to the car to retrieve my daughter’s little lavender parka. We promised her we’d stay until the sun set.

Donovan’s back is turned, phone held to his ear. He’s pacing in his bare feet, his jeans rolled up, a scowl on his face from what he’s hearing. A murder. Every once in a while he glances back at Grace kneeling in the sand playing.

Grace has dug deep channels with a small red shovel, chatting to herself, weaving tales about mermaids and sea creatures and fairies. She bounces a plastic dinosaur along the sand, a prize won in kindergarten for reading two books in one week.

Everything I’ve ever wanted is on that beach—Donovan and our daughter, Grace. My own little family. My life.

I’m still far away, closer to the parking lot, when I see the figure walking along the shore is growing closer. It’s a man. His shadow, with its elongated arms and legs, stretches across the beach until it seems to take on a life of its own. Something about his movements seems angry and frenetic—instead of the wandering gait of a casual sunset stroll—and sets off  small alarms in my head. I walk faster, the sand seeming to reach up and grab at my ankles, slowing my progress.

Donovan’s pacing takes him in the opposite direction, away from Grace. He’s not paying attention to anything besides his phone call. The man is now closer to Grace, who seems alone on the beach, although Donovan is twenty feet away. Donovan squints up into the pink and orange clouds, raking a hand through his perpetually spiky hair.

The man’s path takes him straight toward Grace. My heart races. I can’t tell for sure, but it seems like he’s watching her. He walks at a determined clip, covering ground much faster than me in my flat, strappy sandals. I lean over in mid-stride and rip a sandal from one foot without stopping. Then I scoop up the other in one fluid motion.

Still, each step feels like my bare feet are being sucked into quicksand. I hurry, but feel like I’m moving in slow motion.

“Grace.” I shout, but my words are carried away on the wind. I’m breathless from fighting the sand tugging at my feet. The breeze, which has grown stronger in the past few minutes, whips my hair. Grace’s brown ringlets bob as she hops her plastic dinosaur around, not noticing anything else.

Donovan isn’t far from Grace, but now the man is closer.

At the same moment Donovan turns and sees the look on my face, the man reaches Grace. His long shadow falls over her small figure. She looks up with a smile and starts chatting. He leans down. His hand reaches toward her, his fingers millimeters from her arm. A wave of dread ripples through me. My feet feel cemented into the sand. My mind screams, but no words come out of my open mouth. Inside, I’m flailing and thrashing to get to Grace, but on the outside, I’m struck immobile.

The man reaches down and grasps Grace’s arm, turning her toward him, and the spell is broken. I’m on wet sand running, the scream caught in my throat coming out as a birdlike garble. I scoop Grace up onto one hip and take a step back. I gasp for air, but I can’t breathe. My heart is going to explode in my chest.

The man looks at me with surprise and for a split second, there is something in his eyes that sends panic racing up into my throat, but then the look is gone, as if I imagined it.

“Gosh. I’m so stupid,” he says in a nasally voice. He wipes his palms on the legs of his jeans, as if he is sweating even though the temperature is rapidly dipping along with the sun.

Donovan is at my side. “Gabriella, is everything okay?”

He’s used my full name and he’s looking at me instead of Grace in my arms. Guilt flicks through me. I’m not acting irrational or hysterical. A strange man walked up to our daughter and grabbed her arm. Any mother would react the same, wouldn’t she?

At first glance, the man seems boyish with his bowl haircut, baggy jeans, and sneakers. Up close, a few crow’s feet shows he is older. Maybe even my age—thirty. He has feminine pink lips, and piercing blue eyes, the color of the arctic sea. The collar of his black jacket is pulled up. His smile is all “gee, golly, shucks,” abashed and embarrassed but doesn’t reach his eyes. He paws at his jeans with his palms. He’s done that twice now. He’s nervous.

When he meets my eyes again, I realize that something about him seems off, something about his eyes, more than just their intense color. One eye is close to his nose and the other set far apart. It’s jarring and somehow unsettling to make eye contact.

“I’m so sorry,” he says in that same stuffed-up sounding voice. “What a knuckle-headed move. I should know better than to walk up to someone else’s kid like that.”

Donovan grips my arm.

“What’s going on here?” His words are clipped.

I’m panting, but finally able to catch my breath. Still, the words will not come.

“Your kid is so darn cute. She looks just like my little sister used to look. I just wanted to say hi to her and didn’t even think that was a total bonehead move to walk up to someone else’s kid when her parents weren’t around.” He gives an odd smile as he says this.

“We were around.” Donovan says in a monotone, staring the man down.

The man looks down at the sand.

Grace is kicking and trying to get down. My knuckles are white gripping her.

“Ow, mama, you’re hurting me,” she says and tosses her curls in irritation.

Donovan shoots a glance our way before turning his attention back to the man.

“You live around here?” Donovan asks, seemingly casual, but the muscle in his jaw is working hard. His dark eyes under thick eyebrows have narrowed and hold a glint of menace. In a second, it alters him from the man on the cover of the “Sexiest Bay Area Cops” calendar into something feral and dangerous.

The man meets Donovan’s eyes and for a second it looks like he is challenging Donovan to dispute his story, but then he looks down again and digs a sneakered toe into the sand, reinforcing my impression that he’s a kid not a man.

“Marin. Meeting some friends here in the city for dinner. Was early so came here to kill some time.  I didn’t mean to cause any problems. I just wanted to say hi to her. Maybe you’re over-reacting a bit.”

Donovan runs a hand through his hair. His posture relaxes. Instinctively—or luckily—this man has honed in on Donovan’s Achilles heel. We’ve talked at length about our tendency to be overprotective parents because of our jobs, me as a crime reporter, and him as a detective. Donovan has argued we can’t let this affect Grace’s childhood. We need to protect her, but let her grow up carefree. I agree. But it’s easier said than done.

We’ve, also, talked about my irrational fear that something will happen to Grace.

This man may not realize it, but he’s instantly off the hook with this one simple word—Overreacting.

“Why don’t you go head on out,” Donovan says, dismissing him.

“My bad, really. Wasn’t using my head. Have a nice night,” the man says and turns to leave.

I set Grace down and Donovan wraps his arm around me.

“You okay?”

“I don’t know.” I don’t tell him that it felt like I was having a heart attack, that I couldn’t breathe or move. A stranger walked up to my daughter and I stood there, weak, helpless, frozen.

Donovan gives me a look before we both turn and watch the man’s figure growing smaller. We watch without saying a word. We stand there until the man turns and heads toward the wooden boardwalk bordering the road. He never looks back.

***

Kristi Belcamino is a writer, photographer, and artist. In her former life as a newspaper crime reporter in California, she flew over Big Sur in an FA-18 jet with the Blue Angels, raced a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca, watched autopsies, and interviewed serial killers. She is now a journalist based in Minneapolis and the Gabriella Giovanni mysteries are her first books. Find Kristi on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/kristibelcaminowriter or on Twitter @KristiBelcamino

 

Contact Information

Website: http://www.kristibelcamino.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kristibelcaminowriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kristibelcamino

 

Purchase Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Blessed-are-Those-Who-Mourn-ebook/dp/B00SG1ELNW/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/?ean=9780062389428&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-MdXm68JZJz8-_-10:1

HarperCollins: http://www.harpercollins.com/9780062389428/blessed-are-those-who-mourn

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Book Blitz: Last Light Falling: J. E. Plemons

 

YA Dystopian / Post Apocalyptic Thriller
Date Published: July 2015

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Arena has left the nation’s administration with a dead president and a weakened military, and while the tragic memories continue to scar her, the government struggles to regroup without its leader. For the people who still remain in hiding, it’s evident the country is all but lost, and with Russian operatives taking over, the nation’s hope of recovering is grim.
After months in hiding, Arena and her brother, Gabriel, fight to survive the aftermath while they trudge through unkindly terrain across the country to rejoin their friends, but what they soon discover may staunch their journey. The government’s failed attempt to rebirth a broken nation has caused civil unrest like no other.
After reuniting with their friends, Arena’s decision to stay changes when she discovers the secrets of a refugee camp behind a clandestine group of rebels, known as the Southern Resistance. With an opportunity to escape to a permanent safe haven, Arena risks her life to lead the new fellowship. But the darkest days are upon them, and with a new war brewing, Arena’s path will take a dark turn as her survival is in jeopardy.
Into The Darkness captures the cruel truth behind our darkest secrets which may often cause us to question our faith. In this graphic second installment of the LAST LIGHT FALLING series, J.E. Plemons continues the grim story of Arena Power’s fate, testing her faith while she and her brother search for an answer to their survival in a brooding world filled with chaos.
EXCERPT
CHAPTER 1
In the midst of tragic suffering, we all have fallen by death in one way or another, but because of His suffering, we are given hope and a gift of eternal life. I’m still hopeful for those who still remain in this wicked world, regardless of the unleashed hell that awaits us all.
The light draws dim, and Gabe and I are forced to set camp as the sun sets behind the horizon. We find a small spot beyond a brushy field where a clump of trees stands out in the middle of nowhere. The trees are packed fairly tightly, but there is very little underbrush where we can start a fire without burning everything in sight.
“How many more days you think?” Gabe asks as he clears the ground. I brush the sweat from my eyes and gaze wearily to the east. I’m afraid Carrington won’t be the same as we left it.
“Hard to say,” I simply answer. Fact is I haven’t the slightest clue. Nothing from this landscape looks familiar to home. I lay my pack on the cool soil and rest my swords peacefully against a gnarled tree trunk.
“You hungry?” I ask.
“Is the Pope Catholic?” he caustically answers. The sun quickly sets well behind the trees, leaving the horizon to glow.
“Why don’t you get a fire started and I’ll fetch us some-thing to eat.”
While Gabe dresses the ground with kindling, I venture west, anxious to hunt. Night hunting is not my forte. With-out ample light, there’s no telling what’s lurking in the high grass that surrounds us. Although the land here offers abundant species of game birds, I fear the coyotes and bobcats
will scare them away. I kneel down in the brush and wait for something appetizing to cross my path.
It’s been long since Gabe and I have had a decent meal we haven’t had to kill ourselves—not since before all this shit happened. Myra, our foster mom, was the chef of the household. Her roasted duck, a staple on special occasions, would have your taste buds hypnotized for days. And not many people know how to cook duck properly, but she sure did. Though she is dead along with my real mom, not a day goes by without some memory of her.
It’s been twenty minutes now and not a single creature has stirred. I’ve impatiently waited too long to stay here. I trek further out toward a small thicket of live oak trees about a half-mile to the west.
About halfway to the coppice a small hare hops past my boots. I lunge to grab it, but catch a handful of dirt instead. I can’t see a damn thing out here in this nest of weeds. My only hope is to nab something in that cluster of trees up ahead. I wade through the thick brush until the sound of heavy breathing halts my pace. I rest still and for a moment the labored wheezing stops. The sounds in the dark can be misleading, but this certainly doesn’t sound friendly. The tall grass suddenly rustles, but I can’t tell in what direction it’s coming from. Whatever it is, it seems to be scurrying frantically all around. I know it’s not a coyote, because he wouldn’t be moving this much; he would cowardly wait until I made the first move. A small tree limb snaps on the ground to my left about fifteen paces. I quickly bend down and hide within the scratchy underwood. I slowly draw one of my weathered arrows and carefully place it in the string of my bow, waiting for this animal to show itself. The rustling stops and the deep croaking sound of a bullfrog echoes in the distance. That is a pleasing sound, because I know there must be water nearby and I desperately could use a drink. No frog in its right mind would hop around in this barren land without water.
It’s been too long for whatever is hiding out there not to move. Just then, my stomach decides to harmonize with that old bullfrog, growling with starvation. I’m so hungry right now, I’d eat a hot dog from a gas station, but I’m not leaving this spot until I find out what’s hiding out there.
I slowly stand up and walk toward where the raspy panting first started. The rustling in the grass continues when two pheasants fly out in front of me, trying to flee. I must have stepped near their guarded nest. A devilish squeal pierces the air, and two glowing eyes stare at me. In an instant, the tall grass begins to move toward me like a wave in the ocean. I raise my bow and pull the string back, but the arrow nock splits and falls from my hands. I quickly turn and run, hoping I won’t be mauled by what-ever is chasing me. The grass gets thicker and thicker, slowing me down, and that monstrous squeal pierces my ears.
I dart through the weeds as they slash against my thighs like stinging whips. The persisting beast moans with a hellish roar, closing in on my pace, until I finally exit the brushy pasture into a small clearing. There’s not a safe enough distance between this creature and me to look back. It’s fast whatever it is.
I alter my course toward an old oak tree in hopes I will climb far enough up its gnarled limbs for safe harbor. My sides ache from the exhausted running, and the muscle in my lower left calf gives in as I stumble hard to the ground beneath the old tree.
I quickly roll over, pull my dagger from its sheath, and unexpectedly recognize the beast’s twisted tusks driving rapidly toward me. The moonlight shines through the clouded skies and reveals an infuriated feral hog ready to tear into my flesh with vengeance. If I falter, or lose my grip on my knife, I will be at the mercy of its sharp, bristling tusks. The savage pig bows back its hairy ears and leaps, its jowls open wide exposing its razor-sharp teeth. I swing my arm forward and thrust the end of my blade into the back-side of his thick, hairy-coated neck. The hog violently flops about, squealing, not going down without a fight. I stab him again and again until the shrieking finally stops.
I lie there on the ground panting, the two-hundred-pound dead, bloody boar resting on my legs. I’m too tired to move, but the stench emitting from this fowl beast persuades me to do otherwise. Not what I was expecting to find for food, but it’s all we have, and unless a nice pheasant or squirrel decides to pleasantly drop in my lap surrendering to be eaten, it’s pork for dinner.
I push the hairy hog off my legs and pull out my knife. Before I slice into its belly, a small wooden cross near the tree catches my eye. It leans to the side, sitting atop a pile of rocks. It reminds me too much of my uncle Finnegan’s burial that I can’t seem to peel my eyes from it.
Six months have passed since Gabe and I left Finnegan’s grave, and yet I still haven’t forgiven myself for his careless death. If he hadn’t shielded me from the soldier’s bullet at the training facility, I would be the one lying in that grave right now. But my raging hatred for General Iakov caused more pain and misery to our fellowship, and it got Finnegan killed. Though Iakov has fallen with his sol-diers in the facility, leaving a heavy stain on this new administration, it has broken a part of me I can’t get back.
I feel less convinced of the path God has led me on with every step I take in this dark depraved place. If it is my des-tiny to help wipe evil from this world, it’s tearing me apart, because I can feel the fragility in my faith growing now. While I wish I could go back and change things, my fate has brought me here. . . hunting in the dark for survival.
I quickly cut into the hog before the meat spoils and the blood taints our meal. There is just too much to carry back to camp, so I cut and skin what I can for the night and leave the stinky carcass for the vultures. The smell is just too repulsive to continue butchering this nasty beast, anyway. It’s beyond the depths of foul. I tie up what meat I can carry with me and wander toward the small coppice where that bullfrog was bellowing. I’m sure to find water somewhere nearby.
The exposed roots twisting along the ground like a snake suggest an underground spring feeding these lonely trees. There stands a soaring cypress tree hovering over the bank of a small running creek that effortlessly meanders with twists and turns. I follow the brook until I reach the end where it pours into a clear spring. My weary eyes widen, and my dry, parched mouth salivates over this aquatic nectar.
I dunk the canteens into the cold spring water in a less-stagnate area away from the growing moss and algae. I’m so thirsty, I couldn’t care less what’s floating in this sweet, quenching pool of goodness. As long as I don’t have to see what I’m drinking, I’m just fine. Bottoms up, I say.
The unbearable frigid temperatures of winter have finally subdued and surrendered to the fresh blooming beginnings of spring, just like this water. Unfortunately, summer has found a way to creep in, because these long hot days have been murderous. It’s nearing May, I think, but I can’t be for sure. I lost track of time long ago.
For six long miserable months, our weary legs have ambled through snowy drifts of white expanding as far as the eye can see. We have traveled through lifeless towns, abandoned farms, and fields of emptiness, but traveling by foot is our only way now. The roads are no longer safe. Our nation has changed into an ever-growing evil, and those who see it for what it really is have become a liability under harsh scrutiny.
The hundreds of miles we’ve traveled from the East Coast have worn us thin, but I feel our journey to reunite with our friends is not too far away. Texas is the only thing on my mind, and I won’t be discouraged by another day of swollen feet. We haven’t come this far just to give up.
There’s a glowing ember in the distance and I realize just how far away I am from Gabe’s warm fire. The air is starting to get a little chilly and I shiver. I make my way back to camp and find Gabe asleep on the ground in a fetal position. The egregious smell of pork smoking above the fire should wake his stomach up. Gabe has already built a spit-fire high enough above the flames to cook our meal. He’s a Boy Scout after my own heart.
I’m too hungry to wait for this meat slab to hang over the fire the next eight hours. I slice off small manageable pieces to cook, skewer them on a couple of sticks, and lay them on a rock next to the fire. I wrap the rest of meat around the long piece of hickory Gabe had used for a walking stick, and secure it with some left over wire from my pack. I carefully rest the meat above the fire to slow-cook overnight. Hell, maybe the stench will evaporate from the pores, leaving us with some nice tenderloin for breakfast.
I sit next to the crackling fire and dangle the small pieces on the wooden skewers right above the flames. The rendering fat drips from the pork causing the fire to flare up. The sizzling of the fat and crackling of the tissue begins to rouse Gabe, but I don’t think it’s the sound that has awakened him.
“Holy mother of God, what’s that smell, Arena?” Gabe says with his nosed pinched. It’s quite an uninviting smell, but I’ve been smelling and breathing it in for a while, so I guess I have gotten used to it.
“It’s our dinner,” I say.
“You’re kidding me. What are you feeding me, the inside of a pig’s ass?”
Not quite, but damn near close, I think, trying hard not to smile. Okay, I admit the smell is objectionable, but this is all I have to offer.
“Unless you have anything better to proposition, this is our meal. I suggest you take it and fill that empty stomach of yours.”
This salty meat may taste gamey, but when you are as hungry as we are, you’ll eat just about anything, and my stomach can’t wait until the morning to find something bet-ter. Sure I would like to have a nice juicy steak and baked potato, but this will just have to do. We both hold our noses from breathing in the smell of this wretched swine. I stomach what I can and try to dilute the taste with the fresh spring water.
Gabe eagerly falls back to sleep. I try to stay awake as long as I can to keep watch for any unwanted wild creature that may wander uninvited to our malodorous campsite. I’m pretty sure we have unintentionally attracted every wild beast for miles with the smoky scent of ass.
I watch Gabe sleep comfortably below the canvased trees while my stomach churns. The world seems so lonely. Gabe is all I have left right now, and I don’t think I could bear the thought of losing him too. There were times in my life when I detested my twin brother, but I never stopped loving him, and right now, I need him more than ever.
The harsh conditions we’ve experience in the last six months has forced us to both grow up, but none more than Gabe. He’s become a man before my eyes. His dirty blond hair drapes dingily below his ears and eyes. He’s still the same brother at heart, but he’s grown into something much different. Behind those skinny limbs and that frail body he used to carry, breathes courage now. We can never go back to what we were—time and history have changed, and so have we.
I want to believe there is purpose in all of this, but I’m not sure anymore what I’m supposed to do. I feel lost with-out Finnegan by my side. He was the only family Gabe and I had left, and now he too is gone. But his bravery will never be forgotten, and because it was his choice to follow my divine path, we’ve weakened a dying nation at its heart. My enemy may be dead, but my nightmares are still much alive.
I realize there is a reason for every event that happens to us, but I’m still having a difficult time accepting it. I may never fully understand my part in this world, but I will continue until I can no more. Many people left on this earth will accept their fate as meaningless acts of randomness. I believe now there is more to this world than just chaos and ruin. We were born with a plan, a purpose, and a choice. I choose to believe Finnegan saved my life to extend my fate, and I’m eternally grateful, but I wish not to endure any more hum-bling experiences through death.
Instead of sleeping on the padded dirt next to the fire, I nestle in between the roots of an old oak tree. I prop myself up against rough ridges of splitting bark and stretch out my legs. I grab Jacob’s necklace around my neck and stare down at the worn silver cross like I do every night. I rub the edges with my fingers as if it were a nervous tick. I’m afraid I will never let go. The only boy I truly loved is gone, but his death will remain very alive in my nightmares. I fight to stay awake, but my body isn’t willing to compromise. Sleep wins the battle.
About the Author

Jay Plemons’ life is nothing short of ordinary. From an aspiring chef, carpenter, educator, musician, husband, and father, nothing ever seems too busy when adding yet another hat into the mix as a fiction novelist. With a degree in music business, and a minor in English from Middle Tennessee State University, the aspirations to continue his journey in the arts, has followed Jay to write the Last Light Falling series, which has not only touched on some of his personal experiences, but has also helped him further explore the heightened convictions of faith.
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Excerpt: Stop the Diet; I Want to Get Off! by Lisa Tillinger Johansen

stopthediet

 
Health, Nutrition, Diet, Weight Loss
 
Date Published: July 15, 2015
 
 

The Paleo.  The Zone.  The Gluten-free.  Another day, another diet.  We’re caught in a never-ending merry-go-round of weight loss plans, fueled by celebrity endorsers, TV doctors and companies angling for a piece of a $60 billion industry.  But do these diets really work?  And how healthy are they?

Registered Dietitian Lisa Tillinger Johansen examines dozens of the most wildly popular diets based on medical facts, not hype.  And along the way, she reveals tried-and-true weight loss strategies, relying on her years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars and community outreach efforts.  With insight and humor, Stop The Diet, I Want To Get Off shows that the best answer is often not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but easy-to-follow guidelines that are best for our health and our waistlines.

EXCERPT:

The idea for this book began at a wedding.

Who doesn’t love a good wedding? The clothes, the flowers, the romance, the food…

Ah, the food. As we moved into the banquet hall for the reception, the culinary feast was on everyone’s minds. It was all anyone seemed talk about. But for some reason, guests weren’t conversing about the dishes being served; they were swapping stories of diets they had heard about from friends, magazine articles, even celebrities on talk shows.

I’m a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutritional science and years of clinical and health education experience. I’ve counseled thousands of patients and clients on all of these diets. But hearing the guests only momentarily distracted me from my horrible faux pas of wearing white (gasp!) to a friend’s wedding.

“I’m on the Blood Type Diet,” said a woman with an impossibly high bouffant hairdo. “You’ve heard of that, haven’t you? It’s the one where you choose your foods based on your blood type. I’m an AB, so I’ll be having the fish.”

“Really?” her friend replied. “I swear by the gluten-free diet. I’m on it, my daughter’s on it, and my granddaughter’s on it.” I happened to know her granddaughter was six and didn’t have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.

Then there was the stocky guy who was trying to impress one of the bridesmaids. “I’m a paleo man myself,” he said, piling his plate high with beef kebabs. “It gives me more stamina, know what I mean? It puts me in touch with my inner caveman. There’s a restaurant near my apartment that’s paleo friendly. Maybe we can grab a bite there sometime, or… Hey wait, where are you going?”

And there were three Weight Watchers sisters who typed furiously on their phones and argued over their meals’ point values. Apparently there was some discrepancy between their various apps, and the sisters’ discussion was becoming more heated by the moment.

I’m past the point of being surprised by the wide range of weight-loss strategies—some worthless, some crazy, some quite reasonable—being tossed around. In the last few years, there has been a tidal wave of diets washing up on the shores of our nutritional consciousness. Celebrities prance across our screens, promoting a variety of weight-loss schemes on talk shows and infomercials. Medical doctors star in their own syndicated television programs, exposing millions to weight-management techniques, often unsupported by medical research. Other diets get traction on the Internet, racing all over the globe in social media posts, YouTube videos, and often unwanted spam e-mails. And it’s hard to walk past a shopping center vitamin store without being approached by salespeople trying to pitch the latest weight-loss supplements. It seems that everyone wants a piece of the pie; the American diet industry tops $60 billion annually.

It’s classic information overload. You can’t blame people for being confused by all the diets out there, even as crazy as some of them may sound. I didn’t speak up to my fellow wedding guests that day, but it occurred to me they would benefit from science-based facts about the diets they so ardently follow.

So during the toasts, I thought to myself, I should write a book.

I counsel clients on these matters each week, giving them information they need to make the best choices for their health and waistlines. I find that all too often there are issues with the diets presented to me in my counseling sessions and classes. They just plain don’t work, particularly over the long term. And some of them are harmful, even potentially lethal. But it’s also unhealthy to carry extra weight on our frames. So how do we separate good diets from the bad?

In the chapters to come, we’ll take a good, hard look at the various weight-loss plans out there. I’ll pull no punches in my professional evaluation of some of the most wildly popular diets, both bad and good, of the past few years. And along the way, I’ll explore tried-and-true strategies for losing weight, based on my years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars, and community outreach efforts. More often than not, the best answer is not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but instead a few easy-to-follow guidelines that I’ve seen work in literally thousands of cases.

Enough is enough. It’s time for the madness—and the diets—to stop.

LISA TILLINGER JOHANSEN is a Registered Dietitian who counsels clients on a wide range of health issues. Her debut nutrition book, Fast Food Vindication, received the Discovery Award (sponsored by USA Today, Kirkus and The Huffington Post).  She johansenlisa_author_piclives in Southern California.

 

Contact Information

Website: http://stopthediet.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisa-Tillinger-Johansen/371723646229812

Twitter: @LisaTJohansen

Blog: http://consultthedietitian.com/

Any Others: http://fastfoodvindication.com/

 

Purchase Links

Amazon: www.amazon.com/Stop-Diet-Want-Get-Off/dp/0996310207/

Book Blitz: Fairy Tales by Thomas Gonzalez

Children’s Picture Book
Date Published: January 2015

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The Old West, Cowboy Boots, Sheriffs, Mayors, Horses….
Dogs, dogs, dogs and more dogs….
Fairy Tales is a children’s story about Western pooches Spike, Princess, Rocky, Wilbert, Black Jack, Chiquita, and of course the main man Mayor Tom. Set in an old west town, follow the dogs on their adventures, even being sworn in as deputies.
The author has used the names of his real life dogs for his story because he loves his dogs and wants the world to fall in love them too. All of Gonzalez’s dogs are rescues and he has promised them that they will have a good friend in him for the rest of their lives.
EXCERPT
Once upon a time, in the town of Whasumatter, lived Rocky, the Labrador and his most trusted friend Wilbert, The Chihuahua.
The story goes that no one knew where Rocky and Wilbert came from, or what they did before they arrived in Whasumatter.
Rocky was dark and handsome, he always dressed in black and kept his hair very shinny; Wilbert always dressed in brown and black, he liked to wear bow ties.
Some say, they were gunslingers, others say they were drifters, nobody really knew.
In the town of Whasumatter, there had been some disturbance in recent days, by the bandit Mad Dog Spike.
Mayor Tom knew that the town of Whasumatter was in desperate need of a sheriff, since no sheriff had been able to stay around or last more than a week, it was time to get a new sheriff.
The Mayor knew that Rocky and Wilbert were in town, so he decided to talk go to Rocky, and offers him the job.
          
About the Author

Thomas Gonzalez is a Vietnam veteran. He served his country with distinction during those horrific days from the years of 1966-1967. Gonzalez started with a squad of marines and ended up with a platoon of marines. At the beginning of his tour, his squad of marines was known as the Santa-Ana’s raiders because the squad had a few Hispanics. The troop would confiscate anything that was not nailed down. Despite the many times they were engaged with the enemy and were fired upon with thousands of bullets, by the grace of God, they all managed to survive and come home alive. It is for this reason that Gonzalez christen the squad, the Invisible Squad. As the years went by, he started to realize that he was getting into the autumn years of his life.
Because of his love for children and animals, Mr. Gonzalez decided to write short stories because he wanted to share with the world his thoughts and ideas. He has written two books about his Vietnam experiences (Sarge and The Invisible Squad) and has also written three short children’s books (Fairy Tales).
Contact Links
Purchase Links
Giveaway
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Book Tour: Reaper of Stone

 

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A REAPER OF STONE

by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

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GENRE: Fantasy

NOTE: This book is FREE on Amazon for 5 days beginning the date of the book blast.

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BLURB:

A Lady is dead. Her noble line ended. And the King’s Reaper has come to reclaim her land and her home. In the marches of Aedaron, only one thing is for certain. All keeps of the old world must fall.

Elinor struggles to find her place in the new world. She once dreamed of great things. Of becoming a hero in the ways of the old world. But now she is a Reaper. And her duty is clear. Destroy the old. Herald the new.

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Excerpt:

The girl stared directly into Elinor’s eyes. There was no hysteria, and no more tears. Just sadness matched with a hard, cold determination. “For the murder.”

At the word, Elinor felt a cold inside her that had nothing to do with the chilling rain. “They were attacked by bandits.”

“They were not killed by mere bandits,” she hissed. “My father was a tempered razor of the Aegis School. He was a match for a dozen armed men. Perhaps more. That is no

exaggeration.” She stared into Elinor’s eyes with a fierce intensity. “The death of my father and Lady Lliane was no accident. It was an assassination.”

“Stop,” Elinor commanded. She looked around to be sure there were none of Piersym’s razors nearby. Two were outside, but on the far side of the tower. Elinor assumed that over the rain, they wouldn’t have heard what the girl said.

“You don’t believe me?” Tae asked, the hurt clear in her eyes.

Elinor moved close, until they were almost nose to nose. Her voice was quiet, but carried a sharp edge of intensity. “It is not about belief,” Elinor said, holding the girl with her gaze. “You must be careful what you say. Some things once said, cannot be unsaid.”

Tae looked confused and Elinor continued on. “If you make an accusation, you turn your home into a den of wolves.” She shifted her eyes in the direction of the Hearthfire razors on the far end of the parapet. “And these wolves will not allow you to escape if they believe you threaten them.”

The girl frowned, but shook her head defiantly. “But you said it yourself. You fought every day for what you believed in. How is this any different than the rendworms?”

“Because this is not a fight you can win, Tae,” Elinor said.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Mark and Joe have been writing and telling stories together for the last 25 years. They share a love for the classic fantasy tales of their childhood. Their Echoes of the Ascended series brings those old epic characters and worlds to new life.

Website: http://www.gelineauandking.com.

Facebook: facebook.com/gelineauandking.

Twitter: @gelineauandking.

Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0145JMBDA

For our latest releases, join our mailing list: http://eepurl.com/bww_4j

Amazon author page:

Mark – http://www.amazon.com/Mark-Gelineau/e/B00I6TQUCE

Joe – http://www.amazon.com/Joe-King/e/B01460OK50

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

The authors will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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